CHAPTER ONE - ALEC
There is nothing in life that cannot be conquered.
Not even Death.
I should be dead right now. Indeed, I should have been dead a dozen times over. Death has come for me again, and again, and again along my journey. But I have conquered the art of denying her. Each time Death has approached and asked for my life, I have shown her that there is no life here for her to take. Because I understand something that others do not. I understand what she actually wants.
It ain’t me.
It ain’t him, or her, or them, or you.
Fear is the nourishing lifeblood that Death thrives on. She grows fat and full on the fear of those she visits. And that makes her seem powerful. But all one must do to drain her of her power is to starve her of her serving of fear. Then she withers, weakens, and is forced to look elsewhere for her supper.
Those who are intimidated by the idea of dying are simply unpracticed in the art of denying her their fear. They hand it over freely. When Death arrives and demands their soul, they believe they have no choice but to offer it up. Eish, man, most okes invite her in, let her sit at their table, and then feed her and feed her until her gullet is bursting and she has consumed them whole.
And I have discovered that the most effective way of avoiding this presumed inevitability is to see to it that there is no soul left for her to consume.
If you murder your soul before she can claim it; if you rip from deep within you that gnawing parasite that eats at your conscience and causes you to question what is right and what is wrong before Death arrives; then you become Death. And in so becoming, you can look her in the eye when she makes herself known and she will see that you have nothing left that she wants. You and she are the same. She will not be sated by sitting at your table, for you have already eaten all that was there. And Death will bow, and sigh, and look away and move along.
As I have said before: The only thing that can kill Alec van den Berg is Alec van den Berg. I am in control. Because Alec van den Berg… is death itself.
As I pull on the spill of yellow hair washing across the shoulder blades in front of me—twisting tightly and clenching hard like I’m holding the reins on a horse’s bridle—my mind drifts, for just a moment, to a time, many years ago, when we were all in the Cook Islands. That yellow dress that Christine wore every single day. I bought her new dresses, crates of them, but she just wore that same yellow dress over and over again. Day in and day out until its tawny brightness began to fade and wash away.
I asked her why she was so attached to it. She said, “Because it makes me feel like I’m wearing the sun. And no matter what happens, as long as I have it on, it’ll always be a sunny day.”
She was such a precocious girl. A poem come to life and she didn’t even know it.
The sound of, “Fuck me harder. Please, please, harder, Alec. Fuck me,” in a posh British accent pulls me away from my brief reminiscence. To be sure, it is its own type of poetry.
I clench Eliza’s hair tighter, force myself into her deeper, harder, as she asks. I smile at the request, because whenever she asks me to fuck her harder, I can detect the hint of her upbringing in her accent. She’s worked hard over her life to cultivate the sophisticated, monied sound of upper-crust British society, but when she’s tired, or drunk, or being fucked in the ass, the Essex girl creeps back in. Proper Purfleet spilling out from her pretty lips.
You can take the girl out of Essex, I suppose, but you can’t take Alec van den Berg from out of her Es-sex-y ass. Not right now, anyway.
My forearm tenses as my fist balls tighter in her jumbled mane of blonde. I look at the veins bulging and throbbing and I grit my teeth. “Harder? Like that?” I ask.
“Yes,” she moans.
I take my free hand and slide it around her hip, letting it find the throbbing bundle of nerves between her legs. With two fingers, I press on her and she squeals.
“You’re going to make me come.” She laughs.
“I certainly fokken hope so,” I gasp in response. “Otherwise, I’m doing something terribly wrong.”
She widens her stance, spreading her long, muscled legs as far astride as they will allow her, and in an echo of that movement, reaches her arms out as far as she can as well. She takes hold of the two posts at the footboard of the four-poster bed, and the force of our thrusting back forth causes the canopy to shake and the headboard to slam into the wall. Bits of plaster from the sixteenth-century stately manor cascade down onto the floor. I imagine someone will likely ask me to pay for that. When I rented this pozzy to lie low for a bit, the elderly oke who manages the estate went to great pains to emphasize the irreplaceability of the various knickknacks lying about. So I feel certain I’ll be asked to reimburse for the centuries-old wash basin we just managed to knock off the bedside table and send crashing to the floor.
“Bugger,” Eliza says, jumping at the sound of the smashing porcelain.
“I am, my dear,” I say, letting go of her hair and slapping her ass with the back of my hand. She shrieks and slams her ass back into me, causing me to drive further inside her than I thought was possible. The muscles of her asshole clench my shaft as she attempts to hold me in place, lock me down, pressed against her. I draw back, slowly, wrenching myself from within as she tightens and resists. She hisses.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she asks.
I don’t answer. Just keep playing this tug of war between her ass and my cock until I’m almost out of her completely. Then, just as the tip is almost entirely free, I slam myself back inside her, pushing her forward and causing her to release. Her arms shake the bed, more plaster cakes off the wall, and I can hear the creak from the ancient bed frame as it struggles to maintain its structural integrity.
“Fuck! You!” she screams, full Essex emitting from her mouth in accordance with my full sex entering the other part of her. “Come now!” she shouts. “Come inside me, you right bastard!”
No demands made during sex sound as sexy as demands made in a rough, grimy British accent. And I can’t deny the influence it has over me.
“All right. As the lady asks,” I grunt out in the moment before I relax the muscles in my dick and allow a hot stream of passionate reward to gush inside her.
She moans and throws her head back, the long, blonde hair cascading down almost to the point where I am attached to her insides. She yells at the ceiling. Not in a cry of ecstasy, or a wail of pleasure, but in a roar. Anger is sewn into the fabric of her howl.
I reach up to her shoulders and rip her hold free from the bedposts. Drawing her arms back and handcuffing her at the waist, I force myself whatever remaining millimeters I can into her and mimic her screeching yawp. The manor echoes with our mingled voices bellowing in tortured joy. I imagine the sound escapes out into the vast acreage of the British countryside beyond these walls. I feel the devilish grin on my lips as I think of us scaring sheep.
Once I release her wrists, she throws herself forward on the bed, collapsing on the mattress with a plompf. The sudden exposure of my cock to the brisk air in our drafty haven makes me shiver all over. It’s Spring, but in true British, vernal form, it’s been raining every day, leaving us to explore the interior of our safehouse. And the interiors of each other.
I find myself hypnotized by the sight of Eliza now sprawled on the bed. Taut, lean muscles—all relaxed. This is the only occasion where I ever see her relax. The rest of the time, she is a helix of energy. A potential of action ready to erupt at a moment’s notice, springing her into motion and sending her bounding into the world to fight or flee.
Her brothers are the same way. All wiry and anxious and alert. My devilish grin turns even more devilish when I think of her siblings and how, if they could see what I see now—my sticky come leaking from their sister’s batty—they would lose their fokken minds.
It makes sense, them being the way they are. The childhoods they had. The lives they’ve led. In that regard, they remind me of Danny and Christine. It makes sense why they all are the way they are. In fact, the only one for whom the life he leads don’t make sense—is me. But that’s why I am who I am. I am the unique progeny of this universe, the lone creature on this planet who can live as I live and do as I do.
And whether or not that’s true… I choose to believe it.
Eliza rolls over on the bed, props herself on her elbows, and looks at me.
“What’re you thinking about?” she asks, her proper British accent having returned. It’s the voice that allows her access to all the fancy galas, and high-end homes she gets into. The ones that, once inside, she and her brothers rob blind like they was in some goddamn Tom Cruise movie. Five scruffy kids from just off the M25 who learned early on that the best way to get something you want in this life is, as they might say, “to fuckin’ nick it.”
“Thinking that I might just buy this place,” I tell her, looking around.
“Yeah?” she says, lifting her leg out to touch my cock with her toes. “Why’s that?”
I shrug. “Seems like a nice place to have. Quiet. Remote. Secluded. A good spot to lie low and recuperate.”
“I’d like to hope that you won’t be having to recuperate quite so often that you’ll need a place specially dedicated to it.”
“I’d like to hope that too. But I also live in reality.” Her digital fiddling with my softening cock is causing it to find its strength again. “Besides,” I say, “given the amount of shit we’re going to break while we’re here, it’s probably just as cost-effective to own it as it is to keep replacing the goddamn antiquities.”
She laughs a tiny laugh, then her eyes narrow and she tilts her head.
“What?” I ask.
She lets out a small sigh and says, “Christine.”
“What about her?”
“Last night. In your sleep. You said her name.”
“How long do you think you’ll stay here?”
“Here in this house?”
She shrugs. “The house. England. With me. Whatever. Don’t you think, at some point, you’ll need to go back to her?”
“Not sure. The last time I saw Christine, she didn’t seem all that happy with me.”
“Alec,” she says, dropping her foot and sitting up straight, “that’s entirely because of me. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“What I am doing,” I say, stepping toward her, “is protecting everyone.”
She takes on a skeptical, amused, smoldering smile. “Are you now?”
I nod. “I am.”
“And how do you see yourself doing that?”
“As Graham Greene once said, ‘You cannot conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.’”
She laughs, “So you’re God now?”
I glance down at my re-inflated cock, come back to life as I have. Over, and over, and over. Thought dead and resurrected. Lazarus. Indestructible. Undeniable. Eternal. I smile at her in response and say, “No. I’m not God.”
And as I crawl onto the edge of the bed, looming over top of her, and lower myself slowly to enter her properly, looking into her awe-struck face as my full girth slides into her still-throbbing opening, I add, “God works for me.”