Mother Mayhem had stopped pretending that this was all part of her therapy for Erik.
After Erik finished telling her his sad life story, they relaxed in the room Mother Mayhem had made for them. After such a dark tale, they both needed it.
So Mother Mayhem created a little park in her room, with warm sunshine, green grass, a cloud-free sky, bees buzzing from flower to flower, and a big soft blanket spread out next to a statue of a beautiful nude woman petting an equally nude deer.
Then came the picnic lunch, French style. Nothing fancy – just a baguette, a tasty pate, some cheese, some green grapes, a soft sweet summer wine, and for dessert, raspberry sorbet with a litle champagne mixed in.
So they basked, and ate, and chatted. Mother Mayhem told Erik about her days as the most feared and respected madam in London. Her girls (and boys) were healthy, well fed, strong willed, and self-determined. Nobody was ever forced to do anything they hated. Mother Mayhem’s policy was to keep a large enough stable of sex workers that whatever a client wanted, she had someone who was into it.
And what do you know, it turned out that happy and enthusiastic sex workers were far, far sexier than the usual starving and degraded addicts one usually found in the sex for money business. So she was able to attract a lot of well-heeled clients and her house of excellent repute soon became known as the place you went if you wanted the best.
And rich people always wanted the best.
Things might have been different if her wealthy clients knew that some of her employees were also her Angels. The Angels’ goal was simple : bring sex to those who need it the most. The joke was that they were the sexual Salvation Army.
So the Angels would seek the most lonely, desperate, isolated people they could find. People nobody wanted in their beds. People who were forever on the outside looking in when it came to love and sex. People whose inner demons had them so twisted up inside that they found it nearly impossible to express any kind of sexuality. People whose nerves were fraying as their opinion of the gender they sought got worse and worse. People driven to commit desperate and dangerous acts, some of which victimized others. People who were angry all the time and didn’t know why. People tortured by compulsions over which they had no control because their natural urges had been so deeply suppressed that their bodies periodically took over and got its needs met without input from the mind at all.
People, in other words, who really needed to get laid.
At first, the Angels’ mission was to find these people, give them a night of fantastic sexual love, then move on. But after witnessing so many people blossom and flourish after just one night of romance, their mission became one of true sexual salvation. They did their best to fix people.
At first, their successes were few. But once they began to consult with one another like hospital physicians as to what worked and what did not, they rapidly developed their expertise as sexual therapists, and soon they could diagnose and treat nearly any sexual ill, and the number of people whose sexuality had been liberated by them grew.
This knowledge seeped into their regular work, and so their brothel sweet brothel began to take on the air of a clinic. People came there not just to get laid but to get better. And Mother Mayhem’s pride in her workers and her work grew.
It felt good to make a difference in the world.
This lasted for six wonderful years, which was five years longer than anyone thought it would. This was because Mother Mayhem worked tirelessly to make sure that there were enough happy clients and regular customers amongst the rich and powerful that it was always in their own best interests to shield her operation from the law and make sure her guys and gals never spent more than a night in jail.
All of this led to her being respected by all who knew her. That was not always enough, though, which led to her becoming feared as well.
Specifically, she was widely known to be fiercely protective of her workers and her most favored clients, and she had a reputation a mile wide for taking swift and brutal corrective action should anyone mistreat her people.
This was no accident. She deliberately fostered the rumours in order to get the most deterrent value from them, and hence, the times she needed to actually intervene and deal out harsh punishment to the occasional bad actor were kept to a minimum.
When it was necessary to act because, for whatever reason, all of her gentler means of dissuasion and prevention were not working and an individual was continuing to victimize her people, thinking themselves untouchable, all she had to do was make a phone call to a certain client who dealt with certain highly skilled specialists in the field of applied violence, and the matter was swiftly resolved.
Thugs and assassins have needs too, after all, and she was more than happy to make sure those needs got met on a regular and satisfying basis. In exchange, she got to have their services on retainer, as it were.
All of these missions happened in the dead of night and left no evidence. It was as if crossing her invoked the rage of the universe. People who mistreated her people were soon the victim of misfortunes of every possible kind.
One might get “mugged” by someone who seemed to know an awful lot about their sexual procilivities. Or they might have a mysterious accident on the stairs to their home. They might get arrested after the police received a detailed dossier with all the necessary evidence for a conviction for their heinous crimes included. Or they might find their fortunes seized by people far more powerful than them, and go from rich to wretched at lightning speed.
Or, in a few cases, they might find nothing because they had been found floating in the Thames when the morning tide came in.
Mother Mayhem liked to be creative.
This built a myth around her as a nearly supernatural being with the forces of Hell itself at her beck and call. In fact, rumours of her being a powerful witch soon spread like wildfire, and in each telling, her powers and aspect grew.
She didn’t like those rumours. As if she needed magic to get things done! But she tolerated them because they reinforced the deterrent value of her real deeds, and anything that helped keep her people safe was sacrosanct to her.
She even encouraged the rumours by wearing all black, acquiring some vrey handy props for her office like a small terrarium with a very convincing fake human skull in which a very real tarantula made its home, some half-silvered baubles that glowed softly in candle-light, and a pet bat.
His name was Rupert, and he liked lettuce, bananas, and sitting on her shoulder.
Thus, those whom only fear could restrain behaved themselves.
Sadly, it all ended when someone with the right combination of power and reckless passion whose lover had left their abusive relationship after visiting Mother Mayhem organized a raid on her which netted them enough evidence that there was no person or persons powerful in the world who could have shielded her.
That person suffered many misfortunes for their reckless act. You do not interfere with the sex lives of the rich and powerful without suffering their wrath. But it was too late. The damage had already been done and it was fatal.
It took everything she had at her disposal to arrange safe avenues of escape for all her workers who had not been arrested in the raid, and then she had packed up her things (except for her witchy things, those were just plain silly), ransacked almost all of her hidden caches of cash, and took a tramp steamer to America.
“But that, ” she concluded, “is a story for another time, ”
Erik gave her a one-person standing ovation.
Mission accomplished, thought Mother Mayhem. There was no sign of his nightmare past on Erik’s face now. Her story had engrossed him enough to draw him out of himself and into the world, and now his life event could go back to the past where it belonged.
Then a high pitched, angry voice said “Excuse ME, but…. who the hell are you?”.
They turned to see a three foot cartoon rabbit who clearly was hopping mad about something. It was both menacing and adorable.
“Well my name is Mother Mayhem, and this charming lad is Erik-“.
“NO. ” interjected the rabbit. “No he is NOT! He looks like Eric, sounds like Eric, and smells like Eric, but he is NOT MY ERIC. I know this for a fact because the REAL Eric, my Eric, is asleep on a haystack somewhere. ”
All I did was hop down a bunny hole I thought would lead me to my friend’s home, and the next thing I knew, I was here and listening to this lady’s story. ”
“Why didn’t you say something earlier? ” said Mother Mayhem.
“BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO BE RUDE!” snapped the rabbit. “Plus the story was quite captivating. It was detailed enough to spark the imagination but not overburden it with meaningless trivia. The storytelling was superb and the pacing was flawless. I give it four and a half carrots out of five. ”
“Thanks for the comment. ” said Erik. “Remember to click ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’ if you want to see more videos like this. It really helps!”.
“Oh shut up, you.. you…. thing!” the rabbit said. “You’re not allowed to speak until I get this figured out. Okay, so you are Mother Mayhem… ”
“Yes I am. ” said Mother Mayhem.
“And you call yourself…. Erik?” said the rabbit, pointing at Erik without looking at him.
“Well my name is Bumper. ” said Bumper. “And I want to know just one thing. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY ERIC?
Even its dullest residents knew that there was something wrong with the Now.
People kept ended up in the wrong place and in the wrong form.
And you have not known embarrasment until you have shown up to an important business meeting as a shocking pink flamingo wearing nothing but a cage around your sizable but scientifically inaccurate penis.
Objects were popping up in the wrong place as well. The smoking gun from a hard boiled detective fiction showed up in a Gothic romance, hopelessly anarchonistic. A full cowboy outfit, spurs included, was found in the closet of medieval princess. A portable DVD player loaded with National Lampoon’s European Vacation appeared in the cave of an even more scientifically inaccurate caveman.
And nobody knew what to do about it. The monitors and guides who maintained the Now found they had no power over it except for in random surges that left them dizzied and confused by all the power they had briefly had. Most of the residents knew, or thought they knew, someone who could fix things, but they were invariably in another fiction and hence could not be reached without risking dislocation.
So for now, the Now was effectively dead. A small trickle of the brave and the heedless still traveled it, but most Fictionals were too scared of ended up somewhere awful and not being able to come back home to risk it.
The Primaries didn’t know or care. Their fictions revolved around them, and they were happy where they were.
But for the Fictionals, this was the end of life as they knew it. Their “cities” now had no streets or roads. Few of them knew how to be entirely self-sufficient in their own fiction any more. And many of them were in fictions that were not their own when the news of the unreliability of the Now reached them, and thus ended up stranded in universes in which they did not fit.
Hardest hit were those few Primaries who knew how to travel the Now. For them, the ability to return to their own fiction was vital, on both a practical and psychological level. For most of them, the idea that they were now stuck in someone else’s fiction was utterly intolerable. and many of them had taken to traveling the Now at random, hoping to end up at their home fiction by accident.
Others tried to take over the fiction by force. This was futile, of course. Fictions are all about their primaries. That rule of the Now was inviolable. The home Primary was always going to be far stronger than any potential usurper. The battles were one-sided and brief and sometimes quite brutal.
All through the Now, chaos reigned.
And people were scared and angry and anxious and desperate for any kind of solution.
And to Eegee, that meant only one thing :
It was the perfect time to attack the humans.
Then we’ll see who the crazy one is!