Talulla Rising Page 57

Shower time was the window. The eggheads quit the lab and some fifteen or twenty minutes could pass before I’d be expected to appear, scrubbed, fresh-breathed, wet-haired and smocked, on my cell’s CCTV. Fifteen or twenty minutes of alone time in the camera-free corridor with my armed voyeur. Wilson would man the antechamber and send Devaz word if anyone showed up. All I had to do was not lose my temper with Devaz.

Harris the stickler wouldn’t speak to me at all. When he was on duty there was nothing to do but sit or lie in my cell, running through The Plan (which was really just a single idea, an all-or-nothing bet) or fretting about my children or mulling over everything that had happened. Caleb had gone quiet when I told him which gammou-jhi it was they were going to sacrifice. After a while, he’d said: If I knew where they were holding him I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Then after a further pause: So I’m glad I don’t know. Sorry.

Mia, his ‘mother’, wasn’t a believer. As far as she was concerned the Disciples were fanatical idiots and Remshi was in the same bracket as Cinderella or the man in the moon. Like all cults Jacqueline’s at first gently discouraged, then frowned upon, then outrightly forbade contact with non-members. A crisis had come. Caleb had broken from Mia. And broken her heart, I read between the lines. Their last fight had been toxic. He’d railed at her for trapping him for ever in the body of an eleven-year-old, for turning him into a murdering monster, for making him hate himself, for robbing him of the chance to die with a clean soul. His last words to her before leaving were that he despised her, that he wished she were dead. Really dead. Three days later WOCOP had caught him.

‘Better than nothing,’ Devaz said, when, on the fifth day, without warning, he dropped the established nonsense and dragged one of the blue gym mats out of my cell into the corridor.

I thought of all the times I’d been so close to screaming Will you just fuck me already, for Christ’s sake? – and thanked the God who wasn’t there for giving me patience.

‘Put your hands out. We don’t have much time.’

The shift into plain speaking unnerved us. I wondered, briefly, if he’d be violent, then realised he couldn’t afford to be: violence would leave marks. Science would know. Science would investigate. Murdoch would find out.

‘I have to leave the com on,’ Devaz said, which conjured Wilson next door, listening. ‘No,’ he added, reading me, ‘just the headphones.’

We were ambushed, somewhat, when it came down to it, Devaz, unlocking the wrists-to-ankles restraints, by my body’s hot aura, by my particular femaleness and personhood, me by lust’s sheer drop and drowning vision: this close to having sex, how much I needed it was no joke. The word ‘yearning’ presented itself, fresh and legitimate and surprised. My clit was fiendishly awake and calling the shots, the no-nonsense rep for all the intoxicated flesh and blood, for the whole dumb chorus of desire. Holding on to the plan would be like holding on to a talisman on a peyote’d visit to the underworld. I realised (as Devaz was removing the restraints) that we mustn’t lose momentum. Pausing or saying the wrong thing would spook him. Off the back of which thought I worried, suddenly (as I had with Walker; assume Walker’s dead, assume Walker’s – but please God let him not be) that milk would come if he sucked my nipples. The morning’s breast-pump had scored zero but who knew what a human mouth would do? No point mentioning it now. It’d be just the sort of thing to freak him out. Or maybe he’d like it? There wasn’t anything out there a guy might not like. If he did it wouldn’t be Walker’s Dionysian ease but a dreary kink, a secret kept in his psyche like a big rat in a too-small box.

‘Kiss me,’ I said, since it was obvious when we stood face to face that he didn’t know whether some occult prostitutional code prohibited it. ‘Kiss me.’

Kissing surprised him. He’d forgotten its intricate powers. He was unerect when our lips met, but I knew what I was doing, and he was hard by the time we took the first breather. He’d become very quickly intense, his concentrated sexual self, and was balanced now between pornography and all pornography wasn’t. Wulf was awake, greedily grabbing through my blood’s blur, wanting the moment for itself. My woozy strategist laboured as if against a powerful drug: Keep him on the pornography side of the line. If you let it be anything else to him he won’t want to share you and you need Wilson. You need at least Wilson.

So I kissed him differently, with scorn for tenderness, and felt him shut something down in himself in response, felt his scorn, in fact, for the soft-hearted putz in him that had nearly wasted a tremendous pornographic opportunity. His odour was cinnamonish and his face had a tropical little force field. I got down on my knees, unzipped him, freed his cock. He’d washed, thank God. My wulf-sharpened nose at his fly got first canvas and a mild salt dash of urine then a burst of coconut-scented shower gel and melanin and clean pubic hair. He was the sort for shower-gel brand preferences and quality underpants, living in perpetual optimistic readiness for sex, for which the doting mother and sisters had prepared him. His cock was large, uncircumcised and had a downward instead of an upward bend. My look must’ve been too nakedly evaluative, however, because he softened slightly under my gaze. Remedially, therefore, I turned corrupted schoolgirl eyes up to him – yes, I really am going to, in full, dirty knowledge – and in steady, sly increments slid him into my mouth.

‘Uh,’ he said.

Uh indeed, but don’t get too comfy there, hot-shot. It was a fine calculation (as far as calculation was possible through my blood’s giggling urgency) how long to keep sucking him. Long enough so that he didn’t feel short-changed when I stopped, but not so long that he ejaculated – and foiled the plan. And if I kept up this performance – oh, I am a dirty little girl, aren’t I? – he’d be off in the next half-dozen strokes.

‘No,’ he croaked, when I did stop. ‘Turn around.’ I’d pulled him down onto the mat with me and he’d torn off the condom’s wrapper with his gappy teeth. His face was moist and had new lights on. ‘Turn around.’

Hoist by my own petard: I’d been so convincing in my omniscient slut act that he expected to proceed directly au derrière. Wulf was ready to give him an affronted slap, not because the area was off-limits, or because going straight there spoke so clearly of sexual selfishness (even if a girl’s got the mental twist that makes it fun there’s always so much more in it for the guy) – but because in that position I wouldn’t be able to execute The Plan.

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