An Excellent Choice
By Amduscias Albus
A tale of our resident blue demoness~

When I awoke, all I saw was lace. I'm serious: lace, far as the eye can see, like someone puked up some Victorian lady's frilly underpants. It's all black lace, curtains and curtains of it. Then I realize it's covering the walls too and floor -- there's shadows coming through them and darting around, which makes me think, where the hell is the light source?

'That's when you realize you're really an art geek: even after a disorienting car crash and waking up to a room chock full of wafting tentacle Goth lace, you're thinking about light sources. The goddamn principles of shading.'

I sit up, head brushing more stringy blackness. The tickle of fabric down my neck makes me jump away, hands sliding on the silkiness of the floor. That's about the point I realize I'm naked.

A second after that is where I realize I've got no slashes from the glass of the windshield. No bruises from the crunch of my car.

"Oh sh*t. I'm dead."

This doesn't look a whole lot like heaven either.

From somewhere through the sifting curtains, a female voice murmurs, "You came to that conclusion faster than most. Very good."

Her voice, somehow, reminds me of the lace: it's lower than most women, with a strange rasping undertone. Not quite a smoker's voice -- maybe someone who sang for a living and had worn herself out. Either way, I'm a sucker for both ladies and sultry voices, so I heave my naked self up and look around.


Effing lace.

"This way, my clever one."

My feet slip on the floor as I try to walk, grabbing at the drapes to keep my pitiful balance. To help me, she starts to hum, a slow mournful tune like an old lullaby --- a really old lullaby, one that rocks not a cradle, but a coffin and its quiet-eyed mother.

But sirens are irresistible for a reason, so I struggle through until her song smothers my ears. I can feel it pressing strange into my head, like the smell of gasoline leaks through pores and stays with you; like that, but into my veins and lungs until I am breathing her melody and the vibrations are my pulse.

Mid-hypnotism, she urges me to open my eyes.

'When had I closed them?'

But I do, and the lace parts like fluttering wings to reveal Her. She is not the devil I expected, though ethereally and impeccably inhuman: fluorescent skin like someone plugged the dawn sky into a socket and the whole thing lit up pure and gorgeous. She's reclined across a chaise Cleopatra-style, but with far less gold. Only a thin black strip of cloth covers her, with matching elbow-length opera gloves that I already want stroking my cheek and telling me how everything's okay and someone got it wrong and God's a woman with deadly, thick red eyes like the ocean at sunset and a wave of splendid hair, smooth and luxurious as iris petals.

Her smile is small and curled. Expectant.

"I'm dead," I repeat faintly, and she nods. "But... Is this..." I can't bring myself to say it.

"It is whichever you feel you deserve."

Before I can puzzle out her latest purr, something shifts behind her chaise. From the shadows unfurl tendrils, at first ambiguously dark and writhing. As they slither into the light, they take a green hint, trailing into yellow at their tips. One curls around an ankle, stroking the radiant skin of her calf with care.

I swallow. Try to think smart thoughts.

And fail.

"Honestly, whichever one gets me laid, miss."

She drops her head back against the cushions and laughs. "That would be Hell, darling. An excellent choice."