The Last Day of Autumn - The Festival of Lights - The Boa Gown
The goddess leaned against her consort’s bare chest, his arm around her waist. They stood naked on the balcony of the manor watching the southern crystal sun. In the last several hours, it had dimmed enough to be viewed directly, and was emitting very little heat. In another hour or so, it would go dark; the beginning of winter.
“The transformation from day to night is phenomenal,” Jeff told her animatedly. “You can actually see a lot farther around at night than you can when it’s all lit up by a sun. There are lights everywhere!”
Béla looked down at the foundation of the new university on the other side of the hedge wall. The construction was going to take four years; one section each year. The foundation for the first section was already complete.
In the last five weeks, construction had been occurring at an exuberant pace. Her bard could get anyone enthused about anything. He and the project foreman had the same purpose as the rest of the construction workers: an education for the children of their community.
The site was quiet, now. The workmen had left to prepare their own homes and farms for the coming winter; harvesting and storing their crops, turning the soil before it froze to prepare it for the next crop, setting up heating elements in their homes and farms that magically drew their energy from beneath the ground. No more construction work would be done on the university until after spring planting.
Jeff had spent the last several hours making love to his goddess in the courtyard behind the manor, savoring the final hours of the warm sun on their bodies, enjoying the touch and feel of each other. He would never tire of being mind-linked to his goddess while they made love. He could feel the sensuous effects each gentle touch had on her body and senses as she radiated her sensations back through him.
Finally, the crystal sun was so dim that neither of them could tell if they were looking at it, or the spots it had left on their retinas. As they continued their vigil, lights appeared around them. In a few minutes, there were thousands of lights. Béla gasped in wonder, comparing it to a sky full of stars in the deep desert. This was even more beautiful. It was alive! The Festival of Winter Lights was beginning.
A half-hour later, Béla was fuming, ready to bite someone.
“This does require some decorum, Goddess,” Bard Geoffrey told her.
Several of the servants who had come with the manor were fussing over the goddess’ hair and face. Béla was getting ready to just fly out the window, figuratively, in this case. She wouldn’t actually abandon her consort and leave him to explain her unexpected absence to several hundred guests.
After a time, the ladies-in-waiting were done with her. Her consort looked at her, radiating pride and admiration. He walked his goddess across the room to the mirrored wall behind the entrance and let her look at the results of the pampering she’d been forced to endure.
Béla stood in front of the mirror. The stately queen who stared back at her had an odd look of surprise on her face. She was dressed in a strapless, clinging, light green, floor-length gown that didn’t quite wrap around her body. It was almost transparent with an incredible network of veins cleverly worked into the fabric. A two-inch gap started under her left arm and went down past her hips, revealing her perfect skin all the way down her left side.
She twisted back and forth, watching her left leg play peek-a-boo behind the fabric. There was nothing holding the front of the dress to the back on the left side at all. Instead, there was a springy tightness that held the garment in place, clamping it securely around her bodice from her breasts to just below her waist.
'I could fall asleep standing up in this thing and it wouldn’t even let me slouch,' she thought to herself.
Her hair was piled on top of her head. She hadn’t even known it was long enough to do that with it. Then she realized that a lot of what was on her head wasn’t hers. The stately queen in the mirror, surprisingly, laughed. Béla heard her own voice make the noise.
There was something wrong with her eyes, so she stepped closer and gazed into the eyes in the mirror. They were large and black. There was something wrong about that, but she couldn’t begin to guess.
'My eyes have always been black,' she thought. 'What was I expecting?'
Then she realized what it was. Her eyes were made up to accent the blackness of her pupils.
The goddess turned and looked at her consort. He was admiring her beauty and the way she carried herself in that daring gown.
“You don’t look at yourself very often in the mirror, do you, Goddess?” Jeff asked her, amused at her reaction to her own reflection.
“There’s no way I can sit down in this,” Béla told him, ignoring his comment. “I’ll slide right out of it sideways. What was the designer thinking?”
She squirmed in her sexy gown to demonstrate her point of view, expecting the garment to part where it wasn’t supported. It stayed in place and moved with her, still clinging tightly to her torso.
Then Béla froze! She’d felt the gown move! On its own!
“This thing is alive!” she cried.
As she stood, frozen, terrified of what the tiniest motion might cause, she felt the gown snug itself around her waist, straightening out the wrinkles her earlier motions had created in the fabric. Béla stared at Jeff, terrified, holding her breath.
“It’s all right, Goddess,” Jeff said, reaching out and holding her shoulders.
Trying not to laugh, he gazed into her terrified, tremulous eyes. His goddess was shaking in terror. Her mind was completely shut down, not radiating anything.
“It’s called Boa,” he told her, making sure his words got into her mind. “It’s a plant fabric. It’s harmless. It won’t hurt you. It likes being worn.”
His goddess blinked rapidly several times. A moment passed before she spoke.
“It likes me?” she asked, her voice sounding tiny and insecure.
“It won’t eat me?” she asked, sounding the same; maybe a little louder and less terrified.
“No, it won’t eat you, Goddess,” Jeff was laughing out loud, now.
He hugged her, laughing. This amazing, indestructible goddess could be terrified of things unknown, just like everyone else.
Béla gently disengaged herself from her consort’s condescending embrace, embarrassed by her reaction to this new material. She turned back to the mirror, carefully studying her garment in the reflection.
“Where did it come from?” she asked, curious now.
“I don’t know,” Jeff said. “It’s some kind of seaweed. It grows under water.”
‘This could be a life form from Earth that hasn’t been discovered yet,’ Béla thought to herself. ‘Or, it could have come from one of the ice glaciers floating around Jupiter, waiting for a place where it could grow. If that’s so, then where did all those ice glaciers come from?’
Béla placed her hand on her stomach, flat against the fabric of the Boa.
‘Warmth,’ it radiated.
Béla closed her eyes, concentrating on what the Boa was emitting. She had ‘talked’ to plants before, but not in the last thousand years or so.
‘You’re not really a plant, are you?’ she asked it.
‘Warmth, light, touch,’ it replied.
‘Where do you come from?’ she asked.
‘Wet, warm, light. Then cold, cold light, sleep. Then wet, warm, light. Now warm, not light, not wet.’
Béla realized she wasn’t going to get any better answers than that. The Boa could be describing the destruction of its world, or its survival through its last winter.
‘What do you eat?’ Béla asked, starting to feel frustrated. This thing was dumb as a potato.
‘Light, wet, move,’ it replied.
She had determined what she wanted to know. It was a plant. It absorbed plankton or whatever landed on it as it drifted by in the water.
‘I’d better make sure not to get this thing wet,’ Béla thought, ‘it might think of me as a big piece of plankton.’
She really wasn’t worried about this thing trying to digest her. It didn’t have the capability. She felt silly about having been afraid of it. It was just a large piece of fungus, after all.
“Who decided to make clothes out of this stuff, anyway?” she asked Jeff.
“It came with the manor,” Jeff told her. “The last owner had an odd collection of unusual items, including this living gown. Mistress Sarah suggested it when I asked her about what we should wear to this festival. She has no idea who made it. There are very few of them around, I understand.”
The goddess sighed. Her garment sighed with her. She had been too afraid of it to notice its sensuality before, but she was beginning to notice it, now. She held out her hand for her consort to escort her to the grand ballroom.
“There is a good possibility that this little party is going to end up in a big pile of rutting bodies, you know,” she told him as they paraded down the staircase.
She was already getting so aroused she was starting to perspire.
‘Warm, wet, growth,’ her gown told her.
‘Not now!’ she commanded it.
It was already closing the two-inch gap that ran down her left side.
“This thing is growing,” she whispered to Jeff.
“Don’t worry,” Jeff whispered back, “it can’t grow much. It’s only a big leaf.”
Béla had her doubts. As a result, she was a little more nervous and a lot less horny.
The floor around the bottom of the staircase was becoming crowded as guests became aware of their hosts’ entrance. Béla picked up a thought about the ‘living gown’ and tried to reach the mind that had emitted it, but there were too many other random thoughts from admiring men and envious women. Béla had to shut down her perceptions for a while. There were too many people here.
A band was setting up in a corner of the ballroom. There were only four people in the band. The instruments were familiar, having come from Earth, of course.
It had been a while since she heard music. Her father’s people weren’t musically inclined, or, for that matter, not very artistic, either. In fact, the only positive thing she could give them credit for was that they were good builders, if very utilitarian. A good example was the Martian Drones; spare bodies that they built for heavy labor, and those awful looking ‘metal-shelf’ walkways all over the interior of Deimos!
‘But they also built New Eden and those magnificent crystal suns that give this world life. And, they built me, too,’ she realized. ‘Who designed my specifications?’
She decided that her natural beauty was a part of her human genes. Her father’s people were all old and wrinkly; lovable and respectable, but really homely.
As she was thinking, the goddess and her consort were passing through the crowd of guests trying to meet them, shaking hands and exchanging kisses. One person took the goddess’ hand and held it, pulling her back toward him. She turned to see who it was.
“Greeting, Princess,” the tall man smiled.
It was the station captain from the next station down the rails on the equator.
‘What is his name?’ Béla asked herself. ‘If I could remember, It would be a good boost to his ego for the aid he provided last spring…’
“Captain,” the goddess replied, “you never told me your name.”
She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. “And I was never able to thank you for your kindness to us last spring.”
“You have already returned the kindness ten-fold, Princess,” the captain said, bowing formally, “by ridding us of the scourge of our land and creating a palace of joy and happiness where existed before the black heart of oppression.”
“Don’t worry about him,” Bard Geoffrey said, laughing. “He’s from an old family. They all talk like that.”
“If you are aware of the nomenclature of the gentleman,” the goddess said haughtily, “why do you hasten to mock him when instead you should be tripping over the feet in your mouth to offer your introductions and present him to us?”
Béla smiled to herself. She was really surprised that she got all that out without tripping over her own tongue.
Poor Geoffrey looked embarrassed at being chastised in public by his goddess, but Béla felt he deserved it. The captain had addressed her as ‘princess’. He had taken the trouble to find out who his host really was and deserved to be treated with more dignity than the bard had showed him.
“Pardon, Princess,” the captain interceded, “but I have been the Bard’s guest and he, mine, a few times during your extended journey in the spring. We have become fast friends, although we have not congressed together since your return. I understand his jest and have ere treated him likewise.”
“You were entertaining while I was gone?” Béla asked Jeff.
“Your royal sisters, the Princesses Jolene and Dawn, conducted a…” the captain stopped, lost for delicate words to describe the event.
“It was an orgy,” Jeff piped in. “The Celebration of the End of Spring Planting, or something.”
Both men looked embarrassed talking about such a thing with the royal princess and Goddess of the Land.
Béla put one hand up to her mouth and cleared her throat, trying not to laugh out loud. Then all three burst into laughter, unable to contain themselves any longer.
“Well, I still don’t know who you are, Captain, but you are welcome here.” Béla told him.
“I thank you, Princess Béla,” the captain said. “My name will be easy for you to remember. My grandfather built the station and the manor house that Your Highness commandeered from the late Count LaCrosse. My name is Lorraine. Armond Lorraine.”
He clicked his heels together and bowed curtly from the waist. “At your service, Princess.”
“So these estates are actually yours?” Béla asked, innocently.
She hated the idea of having to give them up, but if he had a rightful claim, as a justice she would have to hand her estates over to him.
“No, Princess,” Captain Lorraine replied. “These estates have been out of my family’s hands for over fifty years, now. Our modest civilization here doesn’t pride itself on how much land is owned by whom, but on how it is being utilized. If the justice system determined that the land was becoming infertile or being misused, it could be taken from the transgressing owner and presented to a worthier individual.
“Before your arrival,” he continued, “I was preparing such a treatise to submit to the previously existing justice system to remove the late Count from Lorraine Station. This district’s rapid recovery under your merciful guidance has made that treatise no longer viable.
“I am of the honest opinion that Your Highness and the Bard Geoffrey are more capable than I of assisting this district to reach its full potential,” the captain concluded.
Smiling and curtseying, the Princess Béla acknowledged his affirmation of her guidance.
“Thank you, Captain,” she said, “It is indeed an honor to be well thought of by the house of Lorraine.”
Béla twisted her body slightly to get more comfortable. Her bodice, that part of her gown that seemed to be alive, had closed itself together on her left side and was growing down past her hips, embracing her even more tightly. Béla reminded herself to pick up the hem of her gown before she tried to walk as it now dragged the floor.
‘If this thing keeps growing like this,’ Béla thought, ‘we’re going to be on really intimate terms very soon…’
Seeing that he was about to be dismissed, the captain decided that he should bring up the subject and warn the princess about the living gown, though she may be insulted by her presumed lack of knowledge on the subject.
“Princess,” he began, “if I could be permitted to speak freely, about the ‘living gown’…”
“Oh! You were the one I was trying to find, earlier,” Béla told him, relieved that maybe somebody could tell her what this thing was. “I just found out an hour ago that this thing is alive. What do I do with it?”
“Princess,” the captain said, distressed, “you should return to your chambers and remove it, if it is even possible, now. Your body should have been powdered and prepared to receive the gown so that it would maintain its shape.”
Delicately touching her arm to empathize his words, he was surprised to touch fabric where her arm had been bare, a moment before.
“Princess!” the captain said, urgently. “The gown must be removed now! If it were to find an opening, it could grow roots and consume you in mere moments!”
Béla created an image in his mind that enabled him to act immediately.
The romantic captain picks up the beautiful princess and carries her into seclusion, where he tears off her gown and ravishes her… No! That’s the plant doing that! It’s reached down between my legs!
“Get it off! Now!” Béla cried, terrified as she felt it invading her insides. "Hurry!"
The captain and the bard both tore at her gown, shredding it off in pieces as the other guests looked on, amazed at the assault on their goddess. In less than a moment, the living gown lay shredded on the marble floor, pieces flapping like fish out of water. The final piece was wedged between her legs, rooted in her vagina.
“Pull! Get it out!” Béla cried. “Pull harder!”
The piece of root broke off in their hands. What remained was no longer visible or reachable, but it was still there, growing rapidly inside her. Béla screamed in pain, writhing on the marble floor. It was growing in her womb, like a fetus, but much faster.
‘Cut me open!’ she screamed into the mind of her consort. ‘Help me birth this thing before it kills me!’
She felt it breach the lining of her central core; her digestive system. It immediately stopped growing in that direction.
‘Ha!’ she thought, still holding her belly in agony. ‘Let’s see who's going to eat who!’
She could feel it growing away from her acidic central core, escaping back down her pelvis.
‘It’s going to eat my legs!’ she realized. ‘From the inside!’
Through her tear-streaked eyes, she saw Jeff kneeling down, appalled by the blood leaking out from between her legs. From somewhere, he had acquired a dagger. He held it up, hesitating.
‘Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!’ Béla screamed into his mind, terrified. ‘Kill it now!’
Consumed by her broadcast terror, Jeff drove the knife deep into the raised part of her belly where the root was growing. He stabbed into her belly again and again, splashing her blood all over. At last, he could see the bloody root.
“Help me!” Jeff screamed at the captain. "Help me get it out of her!"
They both reached and pulled at the slippery, bloody root. It finally pulled free, toppling them both as the gory, blood-soaked mess tore loose. As the root pulled free from Béla’s womb, it pulled her intestines out with it, still trying to grow up inside of them. She lay gasping in agony and terror in the middle of the marble floor, an ever-expanding pool of blood surrounding her.
Béla wasn’t out of danger yet. She could feel her body digesting the few tendrils of root that remained. She knew she’d won that battle, with Jeff’s help. But as she lay helpless on the floor, her guts ripped open, she was being covered by a growing leaf that had found itself happily floating in a lake of her immortal blood. She screamed the instant it covered her face.
‘This is worse than a horror movie!’ she thought, becoming terrified all over again.. ‘Things like this just don’t happen!’
A shadow flashed overhead. The growing leaf disappeared.
‘Kill them! Kill them all!’ she heard in her head.
People were screaming and starting to run.
‘No!’ Béla broadcast as hard as she could. ‘Kill the leaves! Kill the plant! Leave the people alone!’
Some of her sisters, terrified and enraged by the terror Béla had psychically broadcast planet-wide, had readily abandoned their own festivals and desperately flown from nearby provinces to rescue her. The battle finally won, Béla passed out.