“Good morning, Nikka,” Diana called out from her doorway as she waved at the dark-haired shepherdess.
Nikka waited patiently while Diana herded her three sheep out of the back pen and added them to the ones Nikka was collecting. The two hugged quickly then Diana hurried back into her hut. Her kyrios, Hymi, glared at Nikka through the doorway, then shut it between them.
“Come on, now,” Nikka called out, reaching out with her staff to tap an errant lamb on its head. It bleated noisily and backed out from between two huts where it had intended to explore as she blocked its way with her long staff.
Making loud tsk-tsk noises with her tongue and cheeks, Nikka guided the eight lambs and ewes she had collected this morning out toward the grassy hillside near the river. Seeing other sheep ahead of them now, the new arrivals picked up speed, galloping and prancing out to join the larger group.
Nikka leaned back against an acacia tree and relaxed while she nibbled on a piece of hard bread. She sighed in contentment and thought back on her journey across the world.
This was Nikka’s second year in the village. She had arrived as a refugee from the recent war in the east. She picked up the language easily enough, it being similar enough to the Babylonian tongue that she only made a few embarrassing mistakes.
An older woman, Sybille, with her children grown and her husband dead in the recent war, accepted Nikka into her household to help with chores and fieldwork. Nikka, ever grateful, proved to be hard working and bright. Although she never spoke to anyone of her homeland other than to say that her family was dead, she smiled a lot and was very friendly to the other villagers – too friendly, Sybille would tell her.
“The citadel is gone,” the old woman told her, “and with it the wicked ways of the city! You are little more than a child, Nikka. But you have the body of a grown woman. The boys here – the men, as well – they leave us to fight. Many die. Few return. The ones who return bring the sickness of the citadel back with them.
“They rot inside, behind their eyes. And they will hurt you if you discover yourself alone with them. They will treat with you like a scorned woman and not the innocent child that you are.”
Nikka understood all too well how men, especially conquering soldiers, treated women. She wasn’t innocent, and although she appeared youthful, she had lived the length of several lifetimes. She had learned, after many mistakes, how to blend in with the people, wherever she was, until they noticed (and they always noticed after a time) how different she truly was.
The people here in this valley pressed up against the backbone of the world were decent folk. Both the men and the women were friendly to her, so she decided to stay for awhile, savoring a few years of contentment until the rumors began to circulate again. Then she would leave, stealing away in the middle of the night – a child of the night; forever young, forever living, forever alone.
“Hey, city girl,” a young, masculine voice said from behind her.
There was scorn in that voice and Nikka jumped, recognizing Hymi without having to see him. His hand was on her arm before she could move. Her flesh crawled at his touch. She'd known men like him before. He had been one of the soldiers she’d fled from. Sybille had said so.
Staring into those cruel eyes, Nikka knew Sybille was right. Hymi was rotten inside. His soul had seen and committed too much killing, to much maiming. It filled his mind with death and rage.
Hymi’s eyes glistened as he stared hungrily at the dark-haired girl. She was Babylonian and not one of his own people. That meant she was fair game for the rage inside his mind. He couldn’t use the village girls, not even his own Diana, the way he needed to use this foreign witch-child from the city.
He could feel in her mind that she knew! It was she who had cursed him in the first place with those almond-dark eyes looking right through him! It was she who would cure him of this unwanted rage and hate. If she was sacrificed, his living nightmare would end and he would become Hymi, again. He would be able to love again.
“Stop it!” Nikka cried out. “You’re disturbing the sheep!”
Hymi laughed and pulled the slight girl against his hard body. “It is your voice that frightens them, Witch-girl. Don’t make so much noise and you won’t have to chase so far to fetch them back!”
Nikka struggled helplessly against Hymi’s powerful body as he carried her over the ridge and down toward the river’s edge.
“What’s the matter with you?” Nikka cried as she pounded on him with her tiny fists. “Put me down! Where are you taking me?”
After carrying her a little ways, Hymi threw her to the ground. Nikka frantically looked around and discovered they were on the riverbank. She looked up at him, towering over her, breathing rapidly. His tunic was dirty and sticking out in front of him. Nikka could see plainly what was underneath and making his tunic stick out like that.
“All that effort just for a little sex?” she asked, somewhat relieved that he was only horny.
“You are the source of evil!” Hymi raged at her. “You are the reason I am this way!” He paced back and forth, snarling at the slight girl sitting on the ground.
“All I want is the peace I had before I left,” he said, suddenly more quiet. “My thoughts of home are what kept me alive through the terrible time of war! Then, when I return, I have the sanctity of my home, my village, ripped from my soul by your prying eyes! You have cursed me! Do you understand? You have brought everything I left on the battlefield into my home, my village! Into my soul!”
“What your people did to mine is in my mind and soul as well, Hymi,” Nikka told him, coldly controlling her own anger. “But the peaceful people in the village did not rape, murder and dismember my people. They may have sent their sons to do that, but they have paid a price in the loss of those sons.
“There is no joy to be won by continuing to hate. If you have to live with what you did to me and mine inside you, then so be it! Your suffering does not begin to match theirs – or mine, every time I look upon you!” Nikka spat on his feet.
“But my suffering will end soon, ‘Little’ Nikka,” Hymi said, his voice low and threatening. “It will end when your life ends – one last sacrifice, one last death – and I will be at peace. The war will finally be ended!”
Nikka yelped and scooted back rapidly as Hymi reached for her. He grabbed her arm and she kicked at him, at that big rod sticking out in front of him. Hymi howled and let go of her. Dropping to the ground, Nikka tried to scramble away but Hymi grabbed her loose garment and pulled her right up off the ground.
Holding her in the air with her garment in both hands, Hymi ripped it in half. Nikka dropped naked to the ground with a startled cry, then was caught in his powerful grip again. He waded out into the mud at the river’s edge, dragging Nikka behind him by one leg.
“I will sacrifice you to Sangar!” Hymi gasped as he pulled Nikka away from the shore toward deeper water. “He will be delighted to have a daughter of Babylon to feed his minions and when they have grown big and fat from feeding on you, Sangar will allow us to catch and feast on them in return.”
Hymi was almost hip-deep in water, now, and pulled poor, terrified Nikka to him. She fought and kicked at him until he struck her several times in the face and she became more quiescent. He grappled her by the hips and pulled her against his long rod. Nikka shrieked as she felt his long rod invade her most private parts, then her head was being pushed under the water by his strong hands.
Nikka gasped and struggled, unwilling to let her life end this way. ‘Daughters of the moon goddess don’t get drowned in rivers!’ The thought screamed in her mind!
She kicked savagely against him, hard, managing to pull herself off his hard cock. Then she kicked at the soft part between his legs again. Hymi roared in pain and rage, then fell on Nikka, shoving her completely underwater. She squirmed and clawed as fiercely as she could, then was suddenly free!
Choking and gasping for air, she burst up out of the water and searched frantically for the river’s edge. She clawed and climbed up the muddy embankment and had one hand on dry grass when Hymi grabbed her foot and pulled her back into the water.
He hit her hard, this time. Nikka reeled from the blow. She could taste her own blood in her mouth and her eyes were filled with it, blinded. She felt Hymi shove his hard rod back into her, nearly splitting her in half with his anger and hate. She could also feel him backing away from the river’s edge, pulling her loose from the muddy roots she so desperately clung to.
Then there was nothing in her hands to hold her up and she was being pushed under the water again. Hymi was going to sacrifice her to the river god and there was nothing she could do to stop him. Now she was completely submerged and Hymi was pressing on her ribs, trying to make her give up the last of her precious air.
Nikka writhed and kicked as much as she could, but she couldn’t get any leverage in the water, and another problem was occurring, distracting her from her battle for air.
Her body was betraying her! It liked what Hymi was doing to her! As her orgasm flooded through her belly, down her legs and up through her torso, Nikka felt her lungs giving up the last of her air. She gasped, hoping to catch some of it back, but inhaled water, instead.
Choking violently, she fought furiously to get one last gasp of air. She could see Hymi’s large body above her through the churning water. Something straight and long suddenly appeared in his chest. He stopped trying to hold her underwater and fell backward…
Jerking awake, Jake sat up straight in his bed. It was still dark. He was soaked with what had to be cold sweat, although his mind told him it was river water. The luminous numbers on the alarm clock said 4:17 a.
“It was just a dream,” he muttered, coughing lightly to relieve his constricted throat from water that wasn’t there. “Another fucking nightmare…”
He put his feet over the edge of the bed and down to the cool floor, then sat straight up and took several deep breaths. Several nights ago, he had dreamed he was in a terrible, blood-filled battle being fought with ancient weapons – swords and shields, knives, spears. Everyone around him was dying, being brutally, savagely butchered. A week earlier, he had dreamed of a lover’s tryst
– not a nightmare that time, except that he had been the girl in that odd dream.
Rising from the bed, Jake stumbled to the bathroom and pulled the light string, then squinted in the garish light coming down from the ceiling. Turning on the faucet, he rinsed his face and neck, then dried off and went back to bed. He smiled as he observed the gentle curve of female hips beneath the covers on the other side of the bed.
Her name was Monica – a big-chested natural redhead that had moved in with him several weeks ago after being kicked out by her last boyfriend. She was sweet enough, and her boyfriend was a user. Jake didn’t love her, and she didn’t love him, but they could share their bodies with each other and shared a semblance of companionship.
Monica was easy to talk to and Jake talked to her a lot, including telling her about losing the only woman he ever loved. He left out important parts, like the car bomb and the fact that she had been a flying vampire. In return, he listened to Monica tell him about her childhood and her brother who repeated raped her, and a drunken parent who had permitted it all. She had finally been sent to a home for juveniles for putting her dear brother in a coma. After that, none of her family wanted anything to do with her.
By the time she’d moved in with Jake, she’d given up on finding love, and happily settled in with him, more than satisfied with the warm friendship she found with him.
As Jake came back into the bedroom and sat down, his mind began functioning more normally. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day – Frank and Tanya’s second anniversary. They were married two years ago on February 12, 1995.
'I should send them a card,' he thought to himself. 'I should get something for Monica.'
Then he realized it was already too late. Today was tomorrow. It was already the twelfth, for several hours, now.
When he sat back down on the bed, Monica stirred beside him.
“You’re awake,” she murmured. “Bad dream?”
“Yeah,” Jake muttered. He sighed, knowing she would want him to tell her about it.
“Where’d you go this time?” she wanted to know.
Monica was a part-time student at the local college and was studying ancient civilizations and mythology. If Jake went into enough deion, she could tell him where he was in his dreams. She believed that people actually traveled in dreams, and Jake, right now, was her favorite subject. His dreams were incredibly vivid, and (even better), he usually remembered them.
“I don’t know.” Jake sighed. “A village. There were sheep, a mountain and a river.
"She was there," he continued. "Her name was Nikka, this time. She was a sheepherder. She was having trouble with an ex-soldier name Hymi. He tried to sacrifice her to the river god.”
“Wow!” Monica said, fully awake and much more cheerful. “The stuff of legends. Who else was in it? Anyone named Chloe?”
“No,” Jake smiled at her enthusiasm, “but there was a ‘Sybille’ and a ‘Diana’ in it.”
“Well,” Monica said, putting her brain into gear, “Diana was a Roman goddess – the ‘huntress’. But the only Sybille I can think of is a ‘Cybele’, who had a daughter named ‘Nicaea’. Nicaea was only half-mortal because her father was a river god, but there was this guy – a shepherd named Hymnus who pestered her so ardently that she shot him with an arrow. But that was long before Roman times.”
“An arrow!” Jake exclaimed. “Of course! That’s what was sticking out of Hymi’s chest! It was an arrow! Somebody shot him and saved me… I mean… saved Nikka(!) from being sacrificed to Sangar.”
“Sangar?” Monica asked, sounding surprised. “You mean Sangarius, the river god? My God! That WAS it! You dreamed about the legend of Nicaea, the half-human daughter of Sangarius and Cybele! That means it really happened! But, the way you tell it, Nicaea didn’t shoot Hymnus.”
“No,” Jake replied. “I don’t think so. I was… I mean, she was… being drowned at the time.”
“Jake,” Monica asked earnestly, “you do believe, don’t you? My theory about dreams being real events?”
“Moni,” Jake sighed, “let me ask you this: Do you think it’s possible for one person’s memories to be transferred into another person’s mind?”
“I sat and watched that weird ‘Search for Spock’ thing with you on HBO the other night, Jake,” Monica grinned. “It was an… interesting premise.” She sighed. “Yeah, I suppose it’s possible.”
“I was in the fire, trying to get the car door open. It wouldn’t budge and I could see her burning,” Jake said, his voice reverent, now. “When she noticed I was there, she was frightened for me. She didn’t even seem to care that she was on fire – she just screamed for me to get out – to save myself.”
Monica sat and blinked back tears. She’d heard the story before, but it affected her every time she was reminded of it. It would be a terrible thing to watch someone you loved die – especially in the manner that Jake’s love had been taken from him.
In some fashion, his pain resonated in tune with hers, and made it comfortable for her to be with him. The odd resonance between them seemed to affect him the same way. They comforted each other. It was a good thing.
“So you think it’s real, as well,” Monica said quietly, “but for a different reason, I suppose.”
“Yeah,” Jake said. “I think it’s real. I once suggested to her that if we could write down everything she remembered, we’d have an entire first-hand account of human history.”
“Whoa!” Monica said anxious and surprised at his words. “An entire what? Who was this girl, anyway? Some sort of mythological goddess? People don’t live thousands of years except in their dreams!”
It was easier for Jake to let Monica believe what she would, so he said, “No, she was just a dreamer, like me. Only I think she passed her dreams on to me when she died – so that I’d remember, you know?”
“You’re weirder than I am,” Monica told him. Then, changing the subject, “So long as you believe these dreams are real, do you think you could go back into the one you had tonight? Maybe… find out who really shot Hymnus?”
Jake chuckled and hugged the anxious redhead, pulling her down flat on the bed. “No, not until I feel sleepy, again. Do you have any remedies for insomnia?”
It was an old joke between them (several weeks old, anyway) that her remedy for lack of sleep (and just about any other ailment) was a good old-fashioned tumble in the hay. She was ‘on the pill’, so there were only five days a month when she wouldn’t tumble and this wasn’t one of them.
Monica reached down between them and between his legs. Her hands felt cool down there.
“You aren’t the least bit horny,” she said, sounding disappointed. “But I can probably change that.”
“Yeah, you probably could,” Jake admitted. “But, why don’t I work on you for awhile this time. It’s been awhile since you’ve had a good rubdown.”
Monica gave him a quick peck on the cheek and eagerly slithered down onto the sheets, face down. Jake reached out and began to massage her shoulders.
“Mmmm! That feels good,” Monica moaned quietly.
Jake kneaded her shoulders and back muscles for a few minutes, occasionally being rewarded with a sigh or a groan of quiet pleasure. He spent some time on her lower back – she moaned a lot more when he did that, so he figured she liked it, then he began working on those smooth, sexy muscles that made up her rump.
As he worked his fingers along Monica’s tail bone and ass cheeks, she began to get a little playful; arching her back and sticking her butt up a little bit, then wriggling it. Jake took the hint and worked down a little further until he was at the top of her thighs.
He massaged the backs of Monica’s thighs, slowly moving from the outside to the inside, then had her spread her legs a little so he could massage those smooth, tight muscles running up the insides of her legs. She was deliberately teasing him, now, raising her rump and wagging it as he rubbed her legs.
On the next stroke up her inner thighs, he didn’t stop at the top of her legs, but gently rammed his fingers right up into her vulva. Monica yelped, not expecting such a solid encounter, but she gamely pushed down on his fingers as he tried to shove them up inside her. He managed, but her pussy lips were pulled inside and flipped backwards against his fingers. Every time he moved, she hurt.
“Bastard!” she said, mostly to herself.
Jake waited while she shoved both her hands down between her hips and the sheets to help spread her pussy wide enough to rescue her tender tissue. Once she was satisfied that everything was where it was supposed to be, she wiggled her rump again, letting him know he could go ahead and play.
Pulling one hand free, Jake reached for a tube of cream that she used because of constant skin irritation that seemed to occur down there. Squishing some on his fingers, he rubbed the cool cream into her fleshy pussy lips.
“Nice,” she murmured, enjoying the fact that he didn’t deliberately mistreat her tender flesh as much as her last boyfriend did.
With that medicated cream in Monica’s pussy, Jake didn’t really want to stick his tongue in there, now, but he worked his fingers in and out and chewed on her sweet butt-cheeks for awhile. It was a pleasant diversion and they both enjoyed it.
After a few minutes, she became wetter inside, and Jake realized she’d had an orgasm. The smell of her sex and the feel of her smooth butt was stimulating him and making him hard. When she came, there was a subtle change in her scent, and that aroused him. Rubbing a bit of the medicated cream on his hard-on, Jake kneeled behind Monica and, pulling up on her rump, pushed inside her. She moaned again in pleasure, then laid there and enjoyed it while he humped in and out.
Jake got a little annoyed with her sleepy lack of participation and sat up straighter, pulling back on her hips until she was almost up on her knees, but still lying with her breasts and face flat on the sheets. In that position, she was more willing, or perhaps more able, to move a bit in response to his dick sliding in and out of her. At least, she was twitching, now. Jake liked it best when she was on top. Monica was really aggressive when she wanted to be. Other times, like tonight, or rather, this morning, she was perfectly willing to let him do all the work.
Jake grinned as Monica finally began humping him back, realizing she must have decided to go for another orgasm. If she was willing, so was he. He increased his pace, enjoying himself more now that he had an interested partner.
Monica was starting to hyperventilate, indicating to Jake that she was getting close. His cock was starting to buzz from the hot, sucking friction that the thick medicated cream seemed to create. Digging his fingers into the sides of Monica’s hips, he heard her gasp. At first, he thought she was going to get annoyed by his tight grip on her, but she just increased the pace, instead.
A moment later, they were slapping together noisily with Monica grunting from each impact. Then her muscles tightened up and she let out a wail, letting everyone in the building know she was coming! She collapsed down on the bed with Jake still pounding away on top of her. A few seconds later, he began to spurt inside her, causing her to shiver and let out another moan.
“Good little fucker,” Monica muttered into the pillow as her breathing slowly returned to normal.
Reasonably satisfied, Jake lay down beside her and put one arm over her lower back. Monica moaned and weakly wagged her rump, indicating she wanted him to rub her back some more. He did for a few minutes until he fell asleep.
Nikka burst up through the surface, choking water out of her lungs and gasping for air, somehow free of her antagonist’s cruel hands. As she got her feet underneath her on the muddy river bottom, she looked for the riverbank, still coughing and spitting up water. Hymi was floating nearby. There was a skinny feathered rod sticking out of his chest.
Diana was kneeling at the water’s edge, overcome with grief and, no doubt, guilt. Her husband’s bow and a quiver of arrows lay on the ground next to her.
Jake jerked awake violently as the image of Nikka emerging from beneath the water flashed through his mind. Monica reacted too, rolling away to look at him.
“You all right?” she asked, annoyed at being woke up in such a rude manner.
“Diana did it,” Jake told her triumphantly, having solved the puzzle. “She killed her husband, Hymi.”
“Oh,” Monica mumbled sleepily. Then she rolled back onto her stomach and went to sleep.