Claudia leaned against the brass bar guarding the exhibit. She gazed in awe of the stone figure standing gracefully before her. She admired its immortal beauty with its cool white marble curves sculpted to perfection. The true beauty, she considered, was in its pose. Arms stretched out to a lover who was not there. The expression on the contours of the face presented a feeling of heartache. Claudia herself could almost feel the pain exuding from the cold marble.
It was at times like these when Claudia felt envious of the statues she brought in to her museum. Listen to me, she thought, my museum.
Regardless that her position was co‑curator of the Metarie, Louisiana Museum of Art History, she still felt as if the artwork she chose was hers. After all, she chose all the works in the small museum while her boss, Roger Asshole, did nothing but attend fundraisers and look pretty for the public.
She sighed heavily thinking of the men in her life. The thought created a distraction in her admiration of the statue. She smiled as she thought of a similarity between the two. At the heart of the marble figure was pure hard stone, while at the center of mans’ heart was also pure cold stone. She figured she might not have been thinking like that if she had not been dumped once again by a member of her opposite sex the previous night. She pondered the reasons Mark had given her over a complete bottle of Chardonnay. Her watching the statue that morning not only relieved her pain of losing Mark, but also her hangover.
He had told her she was too complicated. Whatever that meant. She did not understand why men could not stay committed to her. She herself was statuesque with a slender but firm body with full breasts and rounded ass. The main feature men went nuts over her was her flaming red‑gold hair. It had been a theory of hers that men just wanted to have sex with her to prove the old adage, “Red on top; fire down below.” She had the sense that they had their proof. It was in the long‑term commitment where their problems lay.
She had been well educated at LSU and was brought up in the art world. Her father had been one among many painters with studios on Royal Street in the French Quarter. All her life she had been fascinated with statues. She had been ecstatic when she landed this job three years ago. It was a small museum with a few loyal backers and it had a decent amount of displays of various artworks. It was she who controlled the choices on the pieces she brought in. Truth be told, Roger knew shit about art history.
“There you are!” shouted a
booming voice from behind her.
Speak of the devil, she thought. She turned to see her boss coming at her. He was tall with dark gray‑speckled hair parted in the middle. He also wore a full beard, which he thought made him look like the Greek god Zeus. Try Pan, she thought.
“Yes. I’m here, Roger.”
He came up to her and noticed her position in front of the stone figure and glanced at it. “Watching her again, eh?” A pause. “Were you the dumpee again this time?”
“Shut up. That’s none of your business.”
“You’re right. What is my business is seeing that you do your job.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
He cleared his throat, ignoring her question, and stated, “You have a shipment that came in early this morning.”
She forgot that she had her clipboard in her hand while staring at the statue. She quickly referred to it and flipped pages. “Roger, we’re not to get another shipment in until¼.next Thursday.”
“Maybe it’s something you missed.”
She looked up to him abruptly. “I don’t miss anything.”
“Well, this package would have been hard to miss if you got here early enough.”
“Why? How big is it?”
“You can see for yourself.”
He walked away toward the storage area. She grumbled behind his back and followed
him. The storage they used to inspect and prepare pieces was almost as large
as the museum itself. The paintings and sculptures she chose were never large
enough to justify the size. The tallest statues she had were never more than
six feet tall. When she entered the warehouse and saw the new shipment, her
eyes bulged and her mouth gaped.
Standing before her was a wooden crate equivalent in size to a small house. It had to be at least ten feet tall in her estimation. She walked around the sides to see that it was about five feet deep as well.
“What is it?” she breathed her question.
She forgot that Roger was standing there next to her. He inadvertently answered her.
“That’s what you’re here for. I can get Larry and Johnny to help you open it.”
“Where’s the invoice on it?”
“There isn’t one. It arrived by truck early this morning. Larry said the driver wasn’t very talkative.”
“Then, where did it come from?”
He sniffed and said smugly, “That is not in my job description to find out. Now, if you don’t mind, I have calls to make.”
She turned to him, finally pulling her eyes away from the crate. “You’re not staying to see what it is?”
“Whatever it is, it’s too big for this place. I’ll go get the men to help you, kid.”
“Roger, I’m thirty‑two, so you can stop calling me kid.”
“And I’m fifty‑eight, so you’re still a kid to me,” he said as he walked out.
She was left alone with the crate. Her imagination ran wild as she thought of the many possibilities as what it could be. It could be a fountain. A sculpture and a fountain, she thought ecstatically.
She began thinking sinister. It could be a Trojan Horse.
She blocked that thought as the two utility
workers, Larry and Johnny, entered with crowbars. They proceeded to crack open
the large thick wooden door to the box. It was thicker than they thought as
they still were at it for a half‑hour.
She watched them work as she thought that some men were good for something.
It took them a total of forty‑five minutes to fully open the crate. She tensed as they removed the heavy wood. She finally saw inside.
There stood a large¼vase. A vase?
Larry blurted, “What the hell is that?”
For the first time in her career at admiring and inspecting thousands of pieces of various artwork, she had to reply, “I don’t know.”
The surface was the color of dark dull gray and was roughly shaped. When she had a better view, she saw that it was more like an urn than a vase. Rounded at the top and curving inward at an extreme angle, then bulging outward again. There was nothing spectacular about the design— except for the markings near the brim of the lid. It was too high to see them close, so she would require a ladder. After she obtained one, and climbed up to inspect, she saw the symbols as relative to either Ancient Greek or Mesopotamian design. But, on further study, she noticed the markings actually had a Central American influence. Almost like they were Aztec or Mayan. That did not make sense.
It was mid‑afternoon when Roger burst in. “Have you done your rounds, yet?”
“I thought this was more important,” she said without looking at him. “The pieces we have now are fine because I check them everyday. Think you can give me one day for this?”
As usual, he ignored her request. “You still don’t know what it is?”
She finally climbed down, as her legs were getting stiff from being on the ladder for so long. “Not yet.”
“Whatever it is, we can’t afford something that big.”
“Roger, you’re an Ivy League
scholar—have you ever heard of donations?”
“Yes, I have. Don’t patronize me. I’ve never heard of donations being so big. Why did they donate it here? Why not New Orleans?”
“Questions yet to be answered.” She paused to take her breath before telling Roger about an idea. “I’m thinking of using Amy Rutgers as a consultant on this.”
“Talk about things we can’t afford. She’s New Orleans researcher. She may find a way to keep it for them.”
“She wouldn’t do that. You don’t know her. I just want her opinion.”
He smiled wanly at her. “You know she has a crush on you.”
“Believe me, it will be professional. I’m not interested in that lifestyle.”
“Judging from your luck in men, it may be your only option at this point.”
“I ought to slap you for that.”
He sniffed again. “You won’t. You’re smart, kid, but you’re not brave.”
She could not rebuke the statement. She knew he was right.
“Okay, call Amy. But make sure it’s only on a consultant basis. The last thing I need to see is the two of you researching in the wee hours. There’s a bill I don’t need.”
He left and she went to her office to contact Amy. She was young and good at her job, but she was also an attractive blonde by men’s standards. She was also a bona‑fide lesbian. More than once she had hinted that she was attracted to Claudia. She felt embarrassed at Amy’s affections toward her. She also felt awkward in calling her about work. Claudia never had to consult anyone but herself about artwork. This time was different.
Amy answered and she agreed to stop by
after work. She was downright eager to help Claudia. She said she would be in
Metarie in thirty minutes. Claudia attempted to play down her attractiveness
by pulling up her hair with a scrunchy and putting her old glasses back on after
taking her contacts out. It failed.
“Oh, I didn’t know you wore glasses. You look so cute,” Amy said after she arrived. In Claudia’ s attempt to look unattractive, Amy seemed to do the opposite. She wore a royal blue silk blouse with a tight white short skirt. No hose and her golden long locks had been let down. Of all the things Claudia noticed Amy did wear, she also glanced to see what she did not. A bra. Maybe that was her plan, thought Claudia. She watched her as she stood in front of the mysterious urn.
“Wow, this is huge. Where’d you get it?”
“Don’t know. It just arrived. Isn’t that weird?”
Amy shrugged. “Not really. We get anonymous donations all the time. Of course, they’re never sculptures. Or even¼.what exactly is this, anyway?”
“An urn. A vase. Some kind of container.”
“If it’s a container, then what’s in it?”
“Don’t know. The lid at the top is sealed and it doesn’t look like it ever was opened.” Claudia eased into work mode. “What do you think? Greek?”
“Yeah. That or Indian.”
“Indian,” Claudia asked, surprised.
“Not American‑Indian; I mean from India. The top curve has a Shiva curve to it.” She paused, considering. “But. I think you’re call is right. It does closely resemble Greek design.”
“Wait ‘till you see those symbols at the top.”
Amy looked as close as she could at the bottom level. “Mmm¼those seem Greek, too.”
“From down here they do. That’s what I first thought. Go up the ladder and look at them.”
Amy grabbed the ladder and
started climbing the rickety steps. Claudia came over to hold it. “I got it,
The beautiful blonde turned to look down at Claudia seductively and said with a sinister smile, “If you wanted to look up my dress, all you had to do was ask.”
Claudia’ s face turned beet‑red and she struggled to reply, “I¼.I wasn’t”
“If you say so. Just tell me if there’s anything down there you’d like to see close‑up.”
Claudia did not indulge her in an answer, but she could not help glancing up at her. She received a shock. In addition to forgetting her bra, Amy also neglected to wear panties. In the space of a few seconds, Claudia received a replay of the interrogation scene from Basic Instinct.
She quickly turned away and cleared her head as Amy went up. After a few minutes of looking, Amy exclaimed, “Oh my god. You’re right. These can’t be Greek. They’re too linear. No rounded lettering at all. What could this be? Latin? No. What do you think, Claudia?”
“Aztec. Maybe Mayan.”
“What is Aztec lettering doing on an ancient Greek urn?”
“That’s why you’re here.”
“Have you got an age, yet?”
“No. The carbon testing around here is slow. I’ll get it tomorrow.”
Amy began descending the ladder. “That’s typical.” She stood next to Claudia. “Be sure to call me as soon as you get the results. Now you have me curious.”
There was a silence between them as Claudia started gathering her things to go home. Amy seemed to be collecting words to say to her.
“Listen,” Amy finally spoke, “I’m famished. What do you say to dinner? I’ve got a friend who could get us in to Antoine’s.”
Claudia kept to packing her
case for the night when she replied without looking at Amy, “No, that’s all
right. I’m tired. I just want to go home, flop on the couch with a Dixie beer
in hand, and float away to Dreamland.”
“Sounds peaceful. Hey, aren’t you still with Mark?”
Claudia dropped her case on the table and sighed heavily. “We broke up. Last night, in fact.”
“Tsk tsk. I’ve been always telling you that you’ve been dating the wrong sex.” Amy inched toward Claudia’ s back and placed her hand to stroke the redhead’s hair. Claudia immediately jerked her head back away from Amy’s hand and almost sending her to the floor.
“Please, don’t do that!” Claudia snapped. “It makes me uncomfortable.”
Seeing that she was serious, Amy had enough sense to say, “Ok, I’m sorry.” She picked up her purse and turned to leave. “Don’t forget to call me as soon as you get the age of this thing.” She disappeared around the corner.
Claudia went home alone. It had not been the first time. Even with Mark he was hardly ever present being a hotshot lawyer downtown. He added many overtime hours she had always been curious of.
She ended up doing exactly what she told Amy she would do. Letterman was on as she downed the last of the Dixie. A part of her wanted to go to dinner with Amy that night. The other part was too afraid of change.
She looked up at the picture of her father on the opposite wall. Lung cancer had claimed his life two years before. He was the only relative she knew or was close to. Her mother had died while giving birth to her. She never knew her.
Pain. That was what it meant to be human. Feeling pain. Sure, pleasure came around to visit for minutes at a time. Pain was a permanent guest. She sat back on the couch to let the effects of alcohol sink into her. Her thoughts drifted to the majestic statue she admired that morning and for that moment, pleasure was a welcome visitor.
She arrived at the small museum early. Certainly, it was not as early as the utility men, Larry and Johnny. Those two had been opening up and cleaning this museum since day one. Johnny was Larry’s younger brother and he was retarded. It was unusual for him to be the first person to greet her in the morning. That morning, it was more like an outburst.
“Claudy! Claudy! You gots to see! You gots to believe me. They got Cramps! They got him last night.”
“Whoa, Johnny, calm down. What’s wrong with Cramps?” This was the name of the cat that Johnny had raised from a kitten. It took much persuasion to convince Roger to let him keep it here in the museum. The name was adopted from Roger. He said once that the cat gave him the cramps, so the name stuck.
Johnny did not calm down while answering her. “He’s¼.he’s¼all white, now. And he’s not moving. They took him¼they took his soul, yes.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Better you see, Miss Claudy. You believe me.” He ran in his awkward step into the storage area and she followed. He led her right to the mysterious urn. Roger was already there standing in front of it with arms folded. He saw Claudia entering.
“I hope to hell this isn’t one of your jokes,” he scorned.
“Would someone please tell me what happened to Cramps?”
Roger gestured to the direction of the urn. Her eyes followed the direction. At first, she did not know what it was she was seeing. After a long moment, it sank in.
At one time, the cat’s color had been a light beige. Now, it was alabaster white. And it was now solid stone ‑ frozen in an arching pose as if it was stretching for the last time. It leaned against the wall of the urn.
“Do you like your new piece of art?” said Roger sarcastically. “I swear, if you had anything to do with this¼”
“I didn’t, Roger. You don’t think that’s really¼Cramps, do you?”
“Of course not. I do think it’s scaring the hell out of Johnny. He believes it’s Cramps.”
“Then¼where is the real cat?”
“Cute. Probably lost somewhere. Maybe he found out he has more sense than his owner and ran away.”
“Leaving his own sculpture behind?” She edged closer to the stone cat and inspected it from afar. She saw something. “Roger¼¼ remember when Cramps chewed through that power cable last year?”
“How could I forget? That cost me another generator.”
“Whatever. Remember it singed his fur in one place on his face and half his whiskers were missing?”
“Well¼look.” She pointed to a spot on the stone figure where a bare smooth patch nestled in the rough replica of fur. And the thin spikes that resembled whiskers were only on one side of the face. “I know you don’t know about sculpting. Let me tell you how hard it would be to replicate that.” She turned to face him. “And to be done overnight.”
“I hope you’re not implying what I think you are.”
“Yes, Roger. There is a possibility that this is Cramps.”
“No. That’s preposterous, Claudia. I don’t want to hear it. Just get it out of my sight.” He turned and disappeared.
She shook her head and turned back to the stone replica of Cramps. Then she stared at the mysterious urn. She muttered under her breath, “What secrets you have yet to reveal.”
“Yeah, it’s a stoned cat, all right,” said Amy once she arrived after work. “Tell me you don’t think this was once flesh and bone.”
“I dare you to find the real
cat,” replied Claudia.
Amy stood staring at her with a blank look. “Turned to stone? C’mon, Claudia; that is fantasy.”
Claudia handed Amy a sheet of paper. “Maybe. Maybe not. Look at this; it gets better. It’s the results of the carbon‑dating I got back earlier today.”
Amy took it and repeated the figure she saw on it. “Three‑hundred forty? Not as old as I thought.”
“Read it again. You’re missing a zero.”
A pause. “Oh, Claudia, no. That’s not right. There’s no way this thing is 3400 years old. That predates Christ by over a thousand years.”
“Yep,” she answered casually.
“So, what does this mean?”
“Let’s look at the facts. We’ve already established it’s Greek. And with its age being that ancient¼I’ll let you connect my dots.”
It took a few minutes before Amy could figure Claudia’ s theory. When she did, her eyes went wide. “No. Oh, no, dear.” She walked closer to her. “You think this urn was made by the ancient Greeks?”
“Maybe even an urn made from the Greek gods themselves,” she elaborated.
“Honey, what are you smoking and why aren’t you sharing?”
Claudia chuckled. “That would make me stoned, too, wouldn’t it?”
“What about the Aztec lettering? That doesn’t fit your Greek gods theory.”
“You’re right. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to prove.”
“Prove? How are you going to
“I thought of cashing in a favor. Let’s just say dinner’s on me, tonight.”
“Okay. So, you’ve resorted to bribery. What’s my part?”
“Visual aids. We have security cameras all over the museum— except in here. Now, I know your museum may have extra cam—“
“You mean to have a camera on the thing?”
“All night,” Claudia nodded.
“Something would have to pass through the field of vision to see anything.”
Claudia shrugged her shoulders and said, “I’m feeling lucky. What about you?”
Amy squinted and smiled. “That’s a loaded question.”
“So, how ‘bout it? Can you get an extra camera?”
“Sure. I can go one step further and have the feed go through my labtop. We can watch it all night. You know what this means, though. If I supply the camera, we’ll have to make your place the headquarters.”
“Now, who’s bribing?”
“One thing: do you think Roger would approve—“
“No! Roger can’t find out. He’d be pissed.”
“No shit. We’ll have to find a spot where it can’t be seen. They’re not that big.” Amy leaned on the table and looked into Claudia’ s blue eyes. “Now, about dinner plans.”
Claudia reached into her purse to fetch a pen and paper to scribble something down. She finished and handed it to Amy who took it reluctantly. Amy looked down at what she wrote.
“What’s this phone number to?”
“Pizza delivery. Any toppings but the salty fishes.”
It took Amy over an hour to get the security camera, bring it back to Metarie, and hook it up. She wired the camera feed into her labtop. The size of the camera was relative to a small alarm clock, so it was not hard to hide within the steel support beams above. Amy tested the angle on her screen and it showed the urn and the surrounding area perfectly.
Once everything was ready, Amy ordered the pizza to be delivered to Claudia’s. They went in separate cars, so, on the way, Claudia stopped to pick up a case of Dixie and packets of powdered Hurricane mix. Normally, she never made the strong drinks at home when Pat O’Brien’s was a drive away. She thought she would save them for a possible future celebration.
After they drank and ate a good portion of pizza and beer, Amy sat in front of the screen of her labtop showing the urn sitting alone in storage. “And on this channel, My Big Fat Greek Urn.” Then, it looked like she had a sudden thought. “Claudia¼what were you expecting this thing to do tonight?”
Claudia answered back, “Something triggered that thing to turn that cat to stone last night. I want to know what that trigger is.”
“Ok, going by that theory, something else would have to trigger it again?”
“Sorry to spoil your Mardi Gras¼. but is there another cat living there?”
It did not take Claudia long to realize her mistake. “There’s nothing there. Nothing is there to set it off. Oh, shit, I’m so stupid!” She buried her head in her hands.
“No. Don’t think like that. It’s still a good idea. Maybe it doesn’t need a trigger. Maybe something came out of it on its own freewill. It might turn the table to stone— oh, god, did I just say that?”
Claudia looked up at Amy with
admiration. “Yes. Yes, you did. Thanks for believing in me, Amy.”
“Hey, I’d follow you anywhere.”
Amy answered without thinking. “Because I lo—I mean¼.I¼admire¼..” It was too late to take it back. Claudia could connect her own dots. She sat on the edge of the bed in front of Amy, who was still watching the screen as if she could not look at Claudia, yet.
“Amy¼. are you¼.. are you in love¼with me?”
Amy finally turned to her and looked deeply into Claudia’ s eyes and said almost tearfully, “Since the day we met.”
Claudia stared back at Amy and spoke after an awkward silence. “Well¼.. nothing like a forbidden secret to top off the day.”
“I’m sorry, Claudia. I didn’t mean for you to find out this way.”
“Well, I did.” Her thoughts, for some reason, went to the cat, whose appearance and substance had been drastically changed the previous night. Perhaps she herself could undergo a similar change. Had she thought of Amy that way? Was that the reason she was so against the possibility of being with her? It was the reason she had rejected Amy’s advances over the years.
Claudia was afraid of the truth.
Amy finally broke the silence. “Claudia, please say something. I feel embarrassed enough as it is.”
“Don’t be,” she whispered her reply.
“What are you thinking about, then?”
“I’m thinking about how much you want to kiss me right now.”
Amy smiled and kneeled on the
floor in front of Claudia sitting on the edge of the bed and said, “I want to
kiss you full on the lips.”
Claudia answered uneasily. She was entering Unknown Territory. “I¼I would have to take off my lipstick.”
Amy’s smile turned devious again. “Those weren’t the lips I had in mind.”
Immediately, Claudia’ s shade turned beet‑red. “Oh, God, Amy¼.. if I’m doing this¼. let me start small, please.”
“I¼.I can’t believe I am going to do this. I never thought of myself as a les—oh, I’m sorry. I meant a¼..oh, Christ, I don’t know what I meant.”
“Lesbian is the word you’re searching for. Of all things, I hate labels. Society has a way of placing people into categories. You want the simple truth? You and I are human beings. We can feel and we can love. That is the only thing that matters.”
As she was saying this, Amy raised herself up slowly. Her head moved closer to Claudia. Soon, her lips were close enough that they parted. Claudia allowed herself the pleasure she anticipated. She parted her own lips to meet with Amy’ s. And, finally, they touched. Thousands of adjectives to describe her feeling filled Claudia’ s mind. Not one of them could fit the description perfectly. She concentrated on the warmth, the softness, and the intensity of the kiss. It seemed to last for hours as Amy’s arms now wrapped around Claudia’ s thick red mane. Their tongues continued to dance around each other. Claudia never knew this level of pleasure existed.
When Amy finally separated for a brief moment to let the feeling sink in, the redhead looked directly into the blonde’s deep blues and breathed, “You kiss better than any man.”
Amy smiled deviously and replied, “Honey, all women kiss better than men.” Without saying another word, Amy eased back into the embrace and once again the pleasure began. She gently lowered Claudia to lie down. Soon, they both were parallel with the bed. They were one entity. Their individual pleasures intertwined together. It did not take Claudia long to take control. She forced Amy over so that she was now below her. All throughout the move, their lips never parted. Claudia started to roll over again. In that roll, she caught a glimpse of the laptop screen.
Claudia quickly pulled from the embrace in surprise and blurted, “Roger!”
Amy stared at her blankly and
replied, “I’m into a lot of kinky things, sweetheart, but that one is off the
Claudia chuckled after she figured that Amy had not looked at the screen. “No. Look. It’s Roger.” She pointed to the laptop. Amy sat up and turned and saw as Claudia had, Roger himself appearing in the image. He was standing in front of the urn as if he was inspecting it. He seemed unaware that the two girls were secretly watching him.
“What the hell is he doing?” Claudia finally asked.
“Question of the year. I didn’t think he had an interest in that thing.”
“It didn’t seem like he did.”
“If you want to know, I suspected he thought I was going to find a way to keep it for New Orleans.
Claudia glanced at her and smiled. “You know him better than you think.”
“Obviously, not. He’s just¼¼ staring at it.”
They watched as Roger started towards the urn. He raised an arm to reach out to it. His fingers made contact with the rough surface. Not quite touched; but caressed. His hand moved over it rhythmically.
“Okay,” Claudia announced, “call me confused.”
After a few more moments of watching Roger feel up the urn, Amy shrugged and said, “Maybe he’s going to jerk off to it.”
Claudia’s head went inside her hands. “Thank you for that image.”
Amy chuckled. “Sorry.”
They continued to watch Roger on the screen. Then, he suddenly seemed to back away. Almost as if he heard something that alerted him. Claudia looked at the screen intensely for any changes to the scene. She found one. She pointed to the corner of the screen that showed a portion of the lid to the urn. Amy followed her gaze and looked as horrified as Claudia.
It was opening.
The girls were transfixed to the screen as a dark shape emerged out of the urn. It seemed to coil up and out and land on the ground near Roger. As horrified as the girls looked, it was nothing compared to the look on Roger’s face. The shape edged closer to him and more detail came into view.
“It’s a huge snake,” announced Amy under her breath. Claudia could not reply. They watched as Roger tried to tear away from the scene before him. There was no audio to the image, but they could imagine Roger’s wails as he tried to escape. He could not escape. It seemed he was rooted to the floor. In no time the snake‑like creature wrapped its tail around Roger’s body. Soon, all that could be seen was the creature. Roger, in a sense, had disappeared. This had lasted a few minutes before the snake started uncoiling from Roger. It eventually slithered itself back into the urn leaving what was left of Roger.
What the girls saw turned their blood cold.
The image had no color, but they could tell even in black and white that Roger’s flesh tones he once had a few minutes ago were gone. He was now a motionless white‑marble statue standing in a pose of fright.
“Holy sweet Jesus,” cried Amy. “Tell me that did not happen.”
Claudia answered, “I wish I could.”
“We have to get rid of that thing.”
“What? No. Amy, that thing is an ancient piece of art. It has to be studied.”
“Studied? You just witnessed what happens when someone tries to study it. You end up a piece of¼.stone. Do you know what this means?”
“Rod Serling is never where you need him?”
“This is not a time for joking, Claudia.”
Claudia stopped to think. “Maybe we do need to do something. We have to get Roger out of there. He’s going to be considered missing.”
“We can explain what happened
to him,” Amy suggested.
“Oh, sure. I’ll let you tell the whole story. That’ll be believable. Hey, we have it on tape.” She motioned towards the laptop.
Amy frowned. “It wasn’t recording.”
Claudia cursed. “Okay. Well, let’s go.”
“What are we doing?”
“We have to hide him. We can’t let anyone know what happened. They’ll destroy that thing.”
“And I would say good riddance.”
“Amy, this is history here. We’re witnessing something that probably hasn’t been seen for thousands of years.”
“Maybe with good reason.”
“What’s the matter? Don’t you want to study it?”
“Not at that cost, no.”
“Well, just don’t fondle it like Roger did.”
“That’s not funny. I’m not going near that thing.”
“Amy, isn’t this what got you into research? This mystery deserves solving. It’s fascinating.” Amy stayed silent. Claudia went on. “Besides, didn’t you say you would follow me anywhere?”
“Well, if you’re going to play the guilt card, what choice do I have?”
They left for the vacant museum after Amy disconnected her laptop to take with her. They arrived in the back to enter through the storeroom. When they walked to where the urn was situated, Roger’s statue was there in the flesh¼. so to speak. They both approached it with caution. Claudia was closer and she pointed her finger to touch the cold stone.
“We can rule out any special effects. This is real.”
Amy reluctantly repeated Claudia’s touch. “So, there’s no doubt that this is Roger?
“Unless you know a very quick sculptor.”
Amy did not reply but she started walking around the figure. His pose equaled his reaction as both hands raised in a shielding motion and his head seemed to turn away from what he was facing. His reactions failed their defense.
“I guess we’d better move him,” Claudia said.
Claudia gazed around at the room and found there was no place to put a full size sculpture anywhere. Then Amy chuckled and suggested, “We can pass him off as an exhibit.”
Claudia looked at Amy and smiled. “That’s not a bad idea. Let’s start lifting him.”
Claudia chose the obvious way to lift by wrapping her arms around the stone waist and started hoisting. It did not rise far from the floor. She set it down with a thud.
“God, it is heavy.”
“His weight is finally a match with his ego.”
Claudia quickly laughed and suggested tipping him and carrying him horizontally. Amy came around to the head as Claudia stayed at the legs. “All right, easy does it.” Amy pulled the head and tilted it down angling the figure with ease. “My god, this is heavy.” Once it was at a forty‑five degree angle, the weight proved to be too much for Amy and her grip slipped.
“Careful, Amy, don’t¼” It was too late.
Down the statue went falling like a cut tree. Amy had no choice but to get away or have her feet crushed. When stone met concrete floor with sudden impact, the noise was a combination of thud and crack. The crash vibrated from underneath their feet. Claudia closed her eyes at the falling. She was afraid of reopening them after the crash. She forced them open and there had been good reason for her fear.
Roger’s separated limbs lay scattered in pieces on the floor. His arms lay on either side of his torso. His head had separated and rolled several feet away. For an instant, the remaining statue reminded Claudia of the Venus DeMilo.
The girls were too in shock to speak. They finally looked at one another. For reasons unknown to them, their laughter started. They were huge guttural belly laughs that forced them to bend over to try to control. They thought they could not stop. In between laughs, Amy tried to speak.
“At least¼.. we can say¼.he went to pieces.” More laughter.
After a few minutes they did calm and came to their senses. Both were asking themselves the same question.
Amy put it into words. “What are we going to do with him now?”
“Let’s collect the pieces and I’ll figure what to do with them.”
“You don’t have any superglue handy, do you?”
“I don’t think that will help now,” Claudia said as she picked up the left arm.
Amy went a few paces to pick up the head. Immediately, she held it upright in the palm of her hand, stretched her arm out before her, and cried, “Alas, poor Roger, I knew him well.”
Claudia chuckled as she collected
the second arm and remarked, “He was a man of infinite jest, all right.”
Once they had all the pieces they stood in front of the pile and Claudia said she would take them home. She had no idea what to tell the others about Roger’s disappearance. They would not suspect her because even though she was co‑curator did not mean she was second in command. That would be up to Roger’s son who lived in Cincinnati. She never met him, but she figured he could not be as bad as his father could. She then averted her attention to the urn. She walked toward it as Amy stayed with the stone pieces. Claudia reached as near to the urn as she wanted. She held up a hand palm up but kept it above the surface without touching it.
Instantly, she felt a sense of pleasure she could not describe. She could hardly pull her hand away. “Amy, come here,” she exclaimed.
“Now, I know you didn’t just ask me to come near that thing.”
“I¼I felt something. There’s some kind of¼.. energy surrounding this thing.”
“You didn’t touch it, did you?”
“No. My hand is not even touching it but I can still feel it. It feels¼orgasmic.”
“Oooh, now you’re speaking my language.” Amy finally came to her side. “But, how can that be?”
Claudia finally let her hand fall away and answered, “I don’t know. Put your hand in front of it and you’ll see what I mean.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I’m not joking, Amy. Trust me.”
Amy sighed and proceeded to hold her hand above the surface as Claudia had, except that she was a few feet away. “I don’t feel anything.”
Amy slowly obliged and as soon as her hand was inches away, she felt the sudden urge of pleasure. “Ooooh¼.oh¼my¼god. What is this, the world’s largest vibrator?”
“Now, if you can let go, I’ll tell you my theory.”
“I don’t think I want to let
go,” Amy replied with an erotic smile. Claudia abruptly swiped
Amy’s hand away with her own. “Ok, so I guess this is important.”
“It is. Listen. What was similar between both Cramps and Roger’s changes?”
“That’s simple. They were both here with the urn.”
“Yes, but what triggered it to open?”
Amy had to replay both the image of seeing Roger on the screen and the story behind Cramps. She had it and whispered, “Touch. They touched it.”
“We touched it too the other day and nothing happened.”
“Well then what was it, Sherlock?”
“They didn’t just touch it; they rubbed it.”
“A la I Dream of Jeanie? Claudia, get real.”
“Amy, you witnessed a man turning to stone. How real do you want?”
“Okay, I saw Roger rub it, but the cat had no reason for a cheap thrill.”
“No, but his pose suggested he was stretching against it.”
“That makes sense. Then, why does it feel like I have to take a cold shower now? Like you said, we touched it the other day and I didn’t feel anything.”
“That was before Cramps was turned. Maybe there was a residue of sexual energy afterwards. Like now after Roger was turned.”
Amy’s eyes widened. “Roger felt that the first day after Cramps was turned and he came back tonight to feel it again.”
“Except that he couldn’t feel it tonight because nothing had turned to stone yet.”
“Amazing theory. Too bad we
can’t prove it.”
Claudia looked up at the top of the urn. “Perhaps there is a way.” She placed both hands on the surface and the pleasure surged through her, though it was fainter.
“Claudia, what the hell are you doing?”
She replied between breaths due to the feeling coursing through her. “Trying to¼. communicate.” She paused and spoke— but not to Amy. She called out, “We know what you can do. We need to know and understand what you are. Reveal yourself.”
“Claudia, you do know you’re talking to an urn.”
As soon as she finished her sentence, there was a loud rumbling sound coming from inside the urn. Then they heard a low scrapping sound of stone against stone. The lid was opening. The sound alone was enough for Claudia to let go. Both girls looked horrified.
“Now, you’ve done it. You made it mad,” said Amy.
“I don’t think so.”
As they expected, they watched as a dark shape emerged from the opening. Instead of a black shape they saw on the colorless screen of the laptop, this was a deep emerald green. It slithered out and its head appeared. It did not have the intimidating look of regular snakes. Its nose was rounded rather than pointed and there were no fangs. It looked straight at the girls with shimmering blue‑silver eyes. It almost looked beautiful.
Claudia found herself mentally going through the files in her mind for any reference to the creature. She could only come up with one. A basilisk. The legendary being that could change men to stone. A mythical creature to her¼..until now.
Both girls were speechless as the basilisk stood before them, fearing that their last breaths were moments away. Instead, the creature glowed a bright green light that consumed it fully. Then the light shrunk in size and the light started dissipating. Once it was clear, there before them was a handsome man of middle age. He wore a full black beard and wearing a loose beige tunic clasped at the waist by a medallion bearing the image of the basilisk he just was.
Claudia thought to herself, that is Greek attire.
“Yes, Claudia, I am of Greek descent.” His voice boomed with bass but there was a delicate nature to it as well.“Wait, how did you know my name?”
“I know much since I was placed here.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is unimportant. What is important is that you have solved the mystery of my dilemma.”
“Not really. It was just a guess,” Claudia said.
“A very well educated guess, indeed. You have come the closest to the truth for many millennia. Suffice to say, you do lack details. I shall give them.” The man started pacing as he talked. “I lived as a man on the island of Crete in ancient times. The gods of Olympus were alive and enduring.”
“Whoa,” Amy piped in, “those gods were real?”
“As real as you and I stand here now. Their memory faded away and they eventually were lost to the world.” He paused as he changed the subject. “As a young man I was very egotistical. I thought I could conquer anyone and anything. I went so far as to challenge a god to a duel. I, then, knew failure. The duel resulted in the death of a fellow friend. I blamed the gods and created so much hate against them that it overwhelmed me. For my punishment, I was to be transformed into the creature for all eternity. Instead of tormenting victims, I gave them immortality.”
“You turned them to stone,” Claudia said. “Like Medusa.”
“No. Not like Medusa. Her stone figures stayed being stone. No feeling and no thought. They were erased from existence by being cold hard stone. What I do is different. You are turned to living stone. You can feel and you can think.”
“You can’t see,” Amy said.
“You can, actually¼. just not the way you believe.”
“Then¼Roger¼was alive?” Claudia asked.
The man turned to look at the
stone remains he turned not long ago. “He was.”
“Was,” Amy questioned.
“He was alive until he was damaged.”
“You mean he’s dead now?”
Amy pushed her golden locks
back with her fingers and sighed heavily. “This is too much!”
To change the subject, Claudia asked him what had happened after he was punished for his hatred.
“I was banished out of Greece and placed inside this urn. The urn was shipped out to an unknown land.”
“Where did you go?” Amy asked.
“Amy,” answered Claudia, “do you know what ‘unknown’ means?”
The man chuckled. “Your sense of humor is refreshing. But, yes, I did not know where I was. Wherever I landed, the natives spoke a foreign language. They found out what I could do soon enough, however.”
Claudia looked up and focused on the markings at the top of the urn. She thought of her theory as to where they may have originated. “The natives placed warnings on the urn.”
“You are more intelligent than I thought. Yes, the markings were, in fact, warnings not to open the urn.”
“What are you talking about,” asked a confused Amy.
Claudia looked back at Amy and said, “He was shipped off and landed somewhere in Central America.”
“Central Amer—Aztec lettering.”
“You got it.”
solved. Now what?”
The man answered, “Now, for your reward, I shall give you immortality.”
“Whoa there, Brutus,” Amy snapped, “I didn’t sign up for anything like that. I didn’t choose this.”
“Yes, you did,” he said plainly. “You felt the energy surrounding the urn. You said you would like to not let go. That energy is but a portion of what I can offer.”
“But..but I have a life here¼as a human,” Amy pleaded.
“Do you, Amy?” he replied. “You have no ties to anyone. You have coveted Claudia for so long that it borders on obsession. And¼.you have no family to speak of.”
Amy looked shocked at his words. The truth behind them brought her on the edge of tears.
Claudia looked long into Amy’s eyes. “You have no family? Where are your parents?”
“I was adopted. I never knew who my real parents were. I was bounced around to so many foster homes that I didn’t have anyone to call mother or father,” she said through flowing tears.
The man smiled. It was a peaceful smile. The kind of smile that said he had the ability to take care of everything. His price for his hatred was to create pleasure unlike any other to his victims. Could they be called victims?
Amy suddenly looked back at the man while wiping away tears and demanded, “How did you know all of that?”
Claudia answered for him. “He can read minds.”
He kept smiling and replied,
“Only those within a certain vicinity to the urn.” He paused and addressed Claudia.
She saw that his eyes still held the same blue‑silver color of his basilisk
form. “I can also sense your wishes, Claudia. All of your life you have admired
the art of sculpture. You surround yourself with the graceful poses of these
figures. I can assure you that my¼participants,
instead of victims, feel no pain. There is no pain. Pain is an uninvited guest
to my living sculptures and pleasure is a permanent resident. You both shall
see. It is what you want.”
He raised his hand and the girls felt an unavoidable urge to kiss. The feeling of strong lust showered them as they came closer and embraced. Their lips connected together and their tongues danced. It did not seem as if he had forced them into this position. This is what they both wanted, but because of fear and anxiety they were reluctant to act. They fulfilled their lust by placing each of their hands over each other’s sex. There they both indulged into ecstasy. This was the result of their physical love for each other. They were too focused to see that the man had reverted back to his basilisk form.
They did not notice the creature coiling around them obscuring them from view. They did not see the stinger at the end of the creature’s tail that injected into Claudia’s leg. It did not have to sting Amy. The two girls were one entity now. They both felt a sudden freeze upon them and soon they could no longer move. Their tongues would be forever intertwined. Their hands would be forever rested against each other’s sex. The stiffness they felt subsided into the most intense orgasm either had ever felt. The catch was that it did not end.
The girls were still focusing in on that
eternal orgasm as their skin started graying at an extreme rate. Their legs
hardened, then their breasts, then their vaginas. Soon their sight was lost
as their head and faced turned to marble alabaster stone like the rest of their
body. They could not physically see, but they were aware of everything around
them at the same time. All through the change, the pleasure never left. They
were now combined as one sculpture.
Then, they could hear.
Speak, new ones, said the voice.
Claudia. How can I hear you?
Both of you are one now. You can speak with each other with your thoughts for all eternity.
This is incredible.
We will be together forever.
That is if no one topples
You still kept your sense of humor, I see.
You better watch it. All of our senses have been heightened. That includes humor.
I wonder where we’ll be displayed.
We can’t exactly be shown in a family museum.
My god, this pleasure never ends. It’s like an orgasm through my entire body.
It is. I am sharing that body with you now.
Thank you, whoever you are. Thank you for this life.
All three— Roger, Claudia, and Amy were reported missing. An investigation was brought in and the museum and each of their apartments were searched. Not one of the authorities had even considered that the new statues in the storeroom were the missing people. Roger’s son did come down from Cincinnati after it was determined his father was lost. There were no next of kin for the girls. The son had no idea how to run a museum so he sold it and its pieces. The new curator loved the collection of artwork, including an impressive display of various sculptures. He especially admired one in particular. The sculpture of the two girls interlocked in an erotic embrace. He admired the intricate details down to the flowing hair and the form of the poses. Sometimes it made him feel erotic himself. Of course, he would never reveal that to anyone. The only problem he saw was that he knew he could not show a piece like that in a public museum. So, he forced himself to sell it under the table to a cathouse owner in the French Quarter. It was not public knowledge that the place existed except for the returning customers. Besides, he thought, where else but a place like that would it be admired.
Claudia and Amy could feel themselves being
moved. The movers were extra careful with this sculpture. Soon, the girls found
themselves on display surrounded by beautiful women. On occasion, some girls
would stand before them and admire them on a slow night. Then, a few times,
some of them actually came up to caress the statue. They would ease their hands
across Claudia’s stone buttocks or even kissed their mouths as if in a weird
threesome. Each time they touched, it increased Claudia and Amy’s pleasure even
further. Something they thought impossible. They both sat in admiration of others
and enjoyed the rest of eternity.
Are you happy?
Yes. Very much.
The urn was another mystery to the new curator. He did not know what to do with it and was not willing to find out. He inquired for a buyer and eventually found one. They loaded it onto a truck that headed towards the docks of the Mississippi River. It was crated up and hoisted into the bowels of the ship.
It was off on another journey in hopes to find another participant.
The End - or not?