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When is sick not ‘sick’?

I think it’s a bad sign that even I am uncertain when I’m ill.

The thing is, ‘ill’ is my default setting so when am I ill enough to be off work? Yesterday was just one of those days.

I’ve gradually been getting slower and slower, moving around has got harder and this most unusual English weather has reduced the quality of my overnight sleep from ‘getting by’ to ‘farcical’. So, yesterday, I got up out of habit then realised nodding off again in the shower was probably not a good sign. Then came the tricky thing of trying to decide whether or not I was ill enough to ring in sick.

  • Pain in joints – check. Full set? – double check
  • Not really wanting to be too far away from toilet – check
  • Difficulty supporting body weight – check
  • Brain not working – uhuh, you betcha

And then, on top of this, is the extra little frisson of stress absolutely guaranteed to wipe me out when I have to make the phone call. I hate it. I hate admitting not just that I’m ill, but that I’m weak enough to give in to it. I hate the reaction at the other end of the phone, the “just you take it easy and look after yourself” when I don’t have it in me to believe it. I know it is meant well and I know that the voice knows I’m not putting it on. It’s just this … thing … with me

Back to where I started. When is sick not sick, when is it sick enough and when am I ever ‘better’?

My hands hurt today (typing this has not been fun), my feet hurt (hello plantar fasciitis my old friend), hips and elbows ditto. But I’m only mildly nauseous, and lying down for most of yesterday has to have done me good. Hasn’t it? Clearly I’m now well enough for work …

 

 

*Edit* 29th July – a number of revisions were suggested today. Unusual to get feedback, so I’ve been giving this a bit more thought. (Apologies if I get this wrong, some of this is literally occurring to me as I type and my shrink is on holiday.)

All the little conversations I have with myself – ‘am I worse today?’ ‘how much real sleep benefit am I getting?’ ‘can I keep running on so little?’ and my classic of ‘is this sick enough to be off sick – have precursors in my first marriage and first really screamingly obvious self esteem problems when I had no idea how bad was bad enough.

All the times I should have been confident in my own ability to decide whether or not I’m too ill for work, or have been able to tell myself to take a break; all the times there is a voice telling me to take care they can’t hear the shouting voice telling me I’m worthless.

When a sensible person would have said enough is enough I let myself be shouted at, when I should have gone I told myself I’d made a promise (“it’s not like he hit you”), when I was pushed into the cupboard (“it’s not like he hit you”), when I was so scared I could not say no (“its not like he hit you”), dropped on my head, the slip down the stairs, when he raped me (“it’s not like he hit …”).

I’ve no idea where I was in that time of fear. Just a couple of years and so many people have it much worse off than me. Even afterwards I was ashamed of my shame, no esteem for my pain.

Clearly there must have been a problem before the days when I thought it was normal to be told that I was stupid, that I would never get a good job (i.e. like him, in IT), that I was just a waste of space as a fucking arts student. And the shouting. The nonsense rants that went on and on because he thought it funny that I was so confused and small and scared and silent. And so I waited. I waited for it to be bad enough to somehow justify getting rid of him because I didn’t think I had the right.

Why did I have to wait for it to get to rape?  And then why did I pay him off just to be rid of him instead of doing anything that would actually validate me? I paid him to go away, and never mentioned it because I didn’t think I was worth the bother. I downplayed it, it was just a thing that happened that didn’t mean anything …

I got through the day in the office on Friday, I dragged myself back there again today feeling sick and tired and so very, very, old. Today was bad. Today the mantra was ‘two more days then holiday, two more days then a rest. Tomorrow the mantra will be counting down the hours while I try and make sense of what is in front of me.

When is sick not sick? When I’m the idiot trying to work it out.

 


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Getting away from it all

Sun, sea, sand and … writing?

I’m on holiday. Well, I’m away from home and work, eating salad and fruit and beer comes in two sizes – large and small – so I guess that means I’m on holiday. I’m also away from my ‘other half’ as this is a holiday with my Mum.

It’s now about a year since me and himself got back off our last sunny holiday (free use of a flat in Sitges courtesy of one of his brothers – do I always sound skint when it comes to holidays?) to find that my Dad had been referred to hospital for chest x-rays. You know, just routine … Three months later and my Mum has to get used to being a widow.

This is Mum’s first holiday away since then. She’s had her downs and started back up on the up-slide again a couple of months ago, the urge to go away again being a part of that. But how to go away on your own? Answer – don’t. So, here I am, in Tenerife. I steered Mum through the changes at Manchester Airport, reminded her that in case of sudden loss of oxygen in the airplane cabin she was to see to her own oxygen mask before her child’s (she thought that was funny), explained that, no, airline seats hadn’t got wider, her bum was 2 sizes smaller than the last time she was on a plane.

Some compromises are being made. I wasn’t allowed to shave my head for the holiday … I now have 9mm blue hair instead. She wanted me to wear a dress, no jeans allowed at night … not sure what the genteel folk in this ’boutique’ hotel are going to make of the skull dress that joined a couple of others from Affleck’s Palace. Can’t quite believe it and at 45 I’m finally buying from Afflek’s. Still, we are in an adult only hotel so I’ve not confused/frightened any small children yet with my tattoos and no parents have had to explain that I am not a man in a vaguely embarrassed mutter (I know it’s sad, but it was always funny at the gym).

Going on holiday now is a little different to the way it used to be. Years ago I would decide which books to take and then dole out the reading time in the hope that I wouldn’t finish everything before the flight back. Now I have my netbook with me, masses of music, films and books on my e-reader and my first concern on getting anywhere new is finding out how good the wifi signal is in the rooms.

I also promised myself to make the most of the opportunity and to get over the current ‘hump’ with writing up this bloody albatross that is taking up a lot of the spare capacity in my head. Obviously, I’ve done nothing of the kind. First full day and all that, I thought I might try and sidle up to it and take it unawares.

ummmm

So I’ve just bought @girlonthenet’s book from Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Net-Not-So-Shameful-Secrets-ebook/ Not just yet another distraction but a completely impractical one as I will have to read in on the Kindle reader downloaded to my netbook because my e-reader of choice is a Sony and not a Kindle.

gah!

One day done. I hope to come home:

  • with something useful written
  • with a tan
  • still fitting into my clothes
  • and still be talking to mother

It would also be nice to get a full sleep in but after last night I’m not sure that’s possible. Wish me luck.


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Hell is other people

Ok, so Jean-Paul Sartre beat me to the comment but, apparently, it might be appropriate for me.

I’ve been having trouble for a while with my hearing (have I mentioned this?). Not that I’m going deaf or anything, just that when there is a lot of noise I have difficulty in filtering out the background static from the things I should be concentrating on. As I spend a lot of time concentrating on the little voice in my ear (telephone headset, not the ‘voices’ you understand) the background chatter in the office has become something of a problem.

I’ve always been a bit picky about sounds. Not as bad as my brother (he’s moved house a few times just to have that gap between him and anything that might generate noise), but enough for it it cause noticable problems for me as I’ve got older. No idea what I would do without an iPod to cut me off from the outside world some days. It’s a bit of a shame, though, that an iPod while eating meals is not considered appropriate as hearing someone else eat is pretty much guaranteed to make me stress out. (I guess I should say I also can’t stand hearing myself eat or even be aware of the sound of my own breathing.)

Certain smells/combination of smells also seem to have an effect. Whatever you do, don’t come close to me or touch me unexpectedly unless I have already touched you first. Once the reaction has been triggered it’s like I’m sensitive to anything – if you are close to me I feel the warmth from your skin, speaking to me makes me cringe inside when I feel your breath if you look at my face while you do it. If I ever look so down and forlorn that all you want to do is give me a hug then don’t. Just don’t do it. One person can give me hugs (briefly and infrequently), anyone else does the same and it makes me want to run away screaming. The fact that in many cases this might not be an ‘appropriate’ response means I might stay put and let you trap me.

I was brought up to be good and polite. It made me docile. It took away my voice so much that I never even felt that I had the right to say “no” and to protect myself from the things that make me feel antsy. A year into the talking and my therapist has now suggested that I might be somewhere on the spectrum of having Sensory Integration Disorder. I need to do more reading on this. Potentially it could explain a lot for me. Equally it could just be some fancy excuse for me being a moody sod annoyed by just about everyone and everything. Is this just a title for something everyone has on a bad day? It’s not like anyone is going to suggest I’m autistic (middle-aged, female, communicative, terrible at maths, unable to draw from memory or do any other mythical autistic cool stuff).

I’m wondering that maybe, just maybe, there is a connection between this nebulous idea of Sensory Integration Disorder and my ME. Basically – am I exhausting myself mentally coping with the externals and therefore exacerbating the annoying drag of the fatigue and other associated symptoms that I have? It could even be the other way around. I have ME and that strips out my ability to cope with the day to day shit of having to be with other people.

What do I know? I’m just the weirdo in the corner.

 

 


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Been a while

What to do when there is so much to be done and you don’t know where, or how, to begin?

Why, you just shut down and hope it will all go away. What, you mean you don’t do that? hmmm

I’ve been bad. I let things get on top of me and ended up in that dizzying blur of frantic activity that looks remarkably like just sitting on the sofa doing nothing. I confess, it may have just been sitting on the sofa doing nothing. No, I was doing something. I was drinking wine. I’m actually quite good at that.

I stopped trying to write as a I had his books (accounts) to get organised and then … well, I just couldn’t seem to get going again. Kept promising myself, get this done, get that done and can spend the time I need to move my people on. Course then we had Christmas and New Year. Not that they mean much to me but they raise another set of things that we are expected to do/go along with and I’ve always let duty override my deep desire to have nothing to do with the excesses of the modern festival.

Anyway the year is passing. No writing done on ski holiday. Desperately trying to fill in the gaps at work (2 bodies down and looks like they ain’t being replaced) and generally just too shitty by the time I get home to think straight. Too tired to write, too tired to exercise, the spiral runs and runs with brief bursts of progress showing themselves a false dawn as useful as recent attempts at Spring in Britain. Weekends are made up of periods of better sleep, hours of wakefulness and a cosseting hypnagogic trance state in which the words come easily but never quite spill out to my hands. I have forgotten so much that I should have expressed.

At work I have retreated into a general silence that people have read as a bad mood. While some of it is down to bad mood (let’s just not go down the route of my colleagues) they don’t really understanding the effort it takes just to go in in the morning. I speak to my users, I look after them and make them promises to see their problems resolved. I don’t mind doing the thinking for users. It’s what I’m there for, and if they could do my job I would be out of one so they can pretty much be as stupid as they want as far as I am concerned.

In six weeks I have another holiday coming up. An unexpected one. It may be a week of unwinding and getting my head in order. It may be a week of white knuckles and bitten back words. Whichever way I expect there will be wine. I hope there will also be words but the more that blank page stares back at me the harder I find it to put one letter after another.

So.

So, I will try (in bursts and twitches) to practice … to take a run up the foothills below my mountain of words and to see how it feels. Back to baby steps.

I want an end to excuses and to get back to being happier being me.


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And finally … (not really)

And finally, I sat down last Sunday and forced myself to finish a first draft of the Tale of the Innocent.

I suspect that some of it is definitely a case of rushing homework just to get the damn thing out of my head. What do you expect? It’s what this place is for.

Mykhail Arkhangelskeyev, kept man, plaything. Poor lamb.

I printed it out and gave it to a friend to read. She said it was sad. (I hope she meant the story and not my writing.)

Tale of the Innocent draft v1

So much more to do, certainly more to be done to this. I also need to practice my drawing skills, ideally I would like to put some images in but fear I will fall sadly short of the task.


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Tale of the Innocent – 5

Mykhail opened his eyes. Morning. A cold light. Different sounds and echoes. He was on a mat on the bathroom floor, swaddled in furs. From his low angle he saw Gabriel, his back to him, bending to attend to something out of sight. The unusual sounds stopped as Gabriel turned around. The furs were thrown back and Mykhail gathered up as easily as if he was a child. From his new vantage point he worked out what was intended and relaxed as Gabriel placed him into the warm water and, very gently, began to wash him. The water was scented. The sponge in the pale hand was soft. New skin enjoyed the feeling of the languid caresses.

“I thought you might like a bath. Far from utilitarian but sometimes utility is the last thing we need. No one will disturb us. We have some time to talk if you want to ask me those questions you have, though I suspect we will need a lot longer for more detailed answers.” The tub was large but not over-filled. There was easily enough room for another without risk of it overflowing.

“In that case, would you join me?” Lying back in the water Mykhail couldn’t help but smile as his elder removed layers of dark clothing. It seemed natural to appreciate the wraith-like beauty on display. Narrow feet stepped into the bath. Delicate looking ankles fitted easily around golden hips as the men faced each other. It seemed appropriate to sit so. Where to start? Mykhail wasn’t certain if he was thinking about his questions or the moonbeam body in front of him. Long minutes stretched in silence as each regarded the other.

“Why did you appear to her naked in the forest?” It seemed a reasonable starting point. The sight had made a strong impression on the woman, even before speaking she was convinced of his supernatural qualities.

“I didn’t want to frighten her so appeared as vulnerable as I could.”

“You didn’t want to scare her and you still showed her that?” He reached across the gap between them. He was aware of less generous organs causing fear for some of his nocturnal visitors. He was not frightened. He stroked the flesh and felt it begin to respond. Mykhail decided he like the sensation of pressure under his hand.

“Trust me, it’s very cold out there and the male body can be a pitiful sight lying in the snow. Mmmmm. It made it easy to show I had scars on my back without making a big deal of it. Anyway, she’d been looking at you for decades. It doesn’t matter what you think of me, you are her ideal. Next question.”

“What if she hadn’t gone for it?” Mykhail felt that another hand was needed and moved closer.

“I’d been here a few weeks – oh that is nice – I had to make sure that you were the real deal before I did anything drastic. I made sure she found me. I didn’t need to say anything much. She put two and two together and suddenly it was obvious that I was Gabriel and the scars were from my wings being taken. Context can be everything. I fitted in with her world view. I see no need to disabuse her of her notion while she is happy. Next question.”

“Have you done this before?”

“No.” The brown eyes had seemed to consider a different interpretation of the question before answering. “I’ve never found another in such a condition. I’d heard the theory of the stasis override but never tried it. I saw you and I knew had to get you out … and to do that I needed Ekaterina as a power store. It was risky, I would have preferred not to but she was the best option we both had.” He leaned forward and dragged fingernails down the inside of unsuspecting thighs. He smiled as Mykhail gasped. “Ah, you have an almightily distracting body boy. Once I’d seen you how could I not want to wake you and find out who you were? Next question.”

“There are others like us?” What would others of his kind be like?

“There is one who is my home. I don’t know how, but he was born a child not an adult. We were meant to be fully grown before becoming active. With no idea what he was he’d grown up thinking he was human, different, yes, but still human. When we met he began to complete the transformation to his full potential. I would like you to meet him. Most of the Shabtis died in the madness of the Collapse but I know of a few scattered to the winds, some in secret, some in plain sight. In theory there must be others that I have yet to meet. A talent for survival is one of our gifts. Next question.”

“Shabtis?” This was a new word, definitely not something from the local people. Mykhail moved closer.

“It was our official designation. The company line was that we were intended to answer the needs of society. In simplest terms a Shabti is magical figure who answers for you when you are called on to work, a production line artificial stand-in able to do whatever is required. It sounds much less threatening than saying army. They didn’t want to call us soldiers. That would have been too honest.” They were very close now. “Next question.”

“All male?” Gender didn’t seem that important. Mykhail realised he would be equally comfortable with this pared down creature or gentle female curves like Ekaterina.

“Some more so than others but, yes, all male.” Now they were chest to chest, Mykhail very conscious of the hard flesh between them. “Too many complications for them bother trying to make females. Definitely too long a story for now. Next question.”

“Why do I think you are called Adam Kadmon?” The brown eyes betrayed a certain surprise and all of the pale body tensed at the name. Mykhail was scared he’d said something very wrong.

“Please don’t use that name. It was …” Aching space between them again as Gabriel leaned back. There was a long pause before he continued. He looked uncomfortable and his voice had an uncertain note for the first time. “Adam Kadmon is a concept of faith, the Primal Man, the prototype perfect essence. According to some beliefs he was the one being able to connect the world of man to the higher planes. At first I thought it was a name being used in poor taste, but I’d been called worse so I let it go. Then I found out it had been used to imprint the younger ones, to give them an idea of something greater than them, something to control them. It was an undercurrent of thought in a mind as diseased as it was forceful. There were a lot of sick things that happened back then. I hadn’t realised it had spread this far. I can’t imagine your own creators being happy with something so inherently mystical.”

Mykhail said nothing. He felt there was something else to come and was content to wait. Not-Gabriel-and-not-Adam-Kadmon seemed to be thinking things over. Eventually he looked back up.

“I am Dave Jensson. I was the first of our kind to talk, the first to … do many things. I am a Delta, a fourth generation Shabti. The labs had managed to create life before me, but they were crude things that barely had basic reflexes and no consciousness. Because of where he grew up I think my other is a Lambda. You are a Mu – one of the last, perhaps the last generation of our kind. The cost and effort of the development was spread across a number of countries. I was created a continent away in North America. This place is the old north-west of a country called Russia.

“Though I was the template for all that followed the mix was altered slightly for each generation as they sought to enhance some traits and reduce others. Even within each generation there was variation. Chance and unusual circumstance made me. Chance was allowed to continue in the hope that another viable source combination could be found. I was the start, not the finished product and I think they would have preferred a different wellspring. They always wanted more force and obedience, and much less thinking. The people who objected to that, well, that is definitely not something for now.” Though the body had relaxed somewhat the thin face seemed to reflect the pain of things left in the past. Another pause and the brown eyes rallied and smiled again. “Next question.”

“How old am I?”

“That’s a tricky one. Physically you might be a few years younger than me. As far as I can tell there was an attack, probably an air-strike when everything went a bit crazy at the start of the Collapse. It looked like the technicians were trying to activate you at the time and you were locked in stasis to protect you. The stasis was only meant to be temporary. Over time it started to break down and there must have been some leakage. This explains why you were starting to grow into the machine and how you were able to make the connection out. How long you’ve been aware … honestly I have no idea how we can calculate that. In theory I guess you could have had some level of consciousness all the time, it depends how far along you were when everything was shut down.

“From talking to the locals the stories of you speaking in their dreams started about seventy or eighty years ago but they have been worshipping you for centuries. It might be best not to think about it too much. Depending on how you define alive I guess you could be a few days old … or you could be closer to your millennium.” The Delta reached forward and rested his hand on the soft golden hair damp on the broad chest facing him. “Whatever age you are, I am impressed. Be what you want to be. Next question.”

“Will you do to me what you’ve been doing to her?” So many words to use, Mykhail had no idea what would be the correct one to describe what he’d seen, what he wanted, what he wanted to do.

“I will, but not yet. Oh, don’t look sad boy. Trust me, when the time is right we will know and we will share. Just like not giving you too much food, it wouldn’t be safe to give you too much of me. I don’t want to burn you up. For now … the woman wants you. Enjoy your time together. Begin to learn what it is to be in that fantastic body. Soon enough we’ll move on. There is much to show you. This world is not quite the same as the one you were designed for. That world degraded, disintegrated, those wars are long gone. Next question.”

“Will you kiss me again?” And there were no more words and no space between them. Like the previous night the ancient creature’s control was complete. He did not betray his own urges but carefully transferred his energy in the outpouring of starlight into newest of his kind.


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Tale of the Innocent – 4

He woke and she was still beside him. It was nice to not be alone. He moved and she snuggled back against him, muttering softly under her breath. The shift had ridden up around her waist. He enjoyed the sensation of feeling her skin against his then realised there seemed to be more of him on waking than there had been when he’d fallen asleep. Though he’d seen it through the eyes of others he hadn’t fully realised what the change itself would feel like. Curious, he wondered what he looked like. All he had were second hand impressions filtered through individual circumstances. Would he cause fear? Desire? Was he unusual? Would he be able to satisfy?

When the time came, would he know what to do with this hot thing heavy and proud?

His helpful subconscious provided a confusing vocabulary and a startling array of images that he must have absorbed. He’d seen so much variation and over such a long time. Male and female, male and male, female and female. Couples, groups, singles. Singles? For some reason he was uncomfortable with that thought. Some had been excited, some afraid, some resigned to things that they believed had to be done. He realised he’d had no sense of morality. Some had been lied to, some had been coerced. Some had been children. Those who had been afraid he’d given them calm, those in pain he’d given relief. Those given over to the joy of their bodies … those he had entered and shared the flavour of their joy when he could.

Quietly he slipped out of the bed. He found moving was easier and easier. Soon he would be fully integrated with himself – whatever that meant. There was no mirror in the room. He remembered seeing some in the bathroom down the corridor. Embarrassed at the weakness and needs of his body he hadn’t bothered looking at them earlier. Now he wondered if he would be able to make it that far without disturbing Ekaterina.

“Don’t worry about what you look like. You are … perfectly made.” The voice came from the shadow in the corner. Literally. Gabriel, wearing the same dark clothes as the day before, was folded up on himself in the small chair. For a tall creature he took up remarkably little space. Surprised by the unexpected spectator the erection faded as quickly as it had come. “Allow me to assist you.” And he stretched out to his full height and was by Mykhail’s side, easing a robe around him, within a handful of heartbeats.

The journey down the grey corridor was not a long one but it still took some time as the new being struggled with the effort. He wanted to see what he could do on his own. Other doors opened into the narrow space. The shadow man explained that they were in part of an old military base some miles out from the largest city in the area. The place was largely derelict.  People like Ekaterina lived here, people who wanted to be near their angel. The community had built up around the angel centuries earlier. Gabriel had been helping them – showing them how to make use of photovoltaic panels he’d uncovered, speaking to their artist about how to represent the miraculous waking. Apparently he wanted them to be able to continue on even after the loss of their original focus. That Mykhail would leave with him seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

The bathroom was large, designed for everyone living on the corridor when it had been full. Now there were signs that it was used by only a handful of people, each marking their own space with personal items. In the same side room that Ekaterina had taken him earlier in the day Mykhail finally stood and looked at the body he was in. Pale blue eyes looked out from a face that had never been young. They saw a blonde shock of hair and broad shoulders topping a solid torso that, in turn, led to muscular legs beginning to tremble with the effort of standing. His skin, like his hair, was variations of the same warm shade all over. Head to toe he was sunlight.

“Too many centuries ago I was forced to look into a mirror and was told how special I was and how people would want me. Believe me when I say the same to you. Have no worries about what people will think when they see you. Have no fears when the time comes for sex. You will do the right thing.” The words were quietly said. An intimate whisper as his companion stooped slightly to bring his   mouth level with Mykhail’s ear.

Apart from a fragile look about his eyes the body seemed remarkably healthy. He guessed he would become as strong as his appearance suggested. He hoped it would not take long. He saw few signs of damage until Gabriel turned him around and, using a small hand mirror, helped him to see what Ekaterina had seen. Thin lines of dried blood matted in his hair and wounds criss-crossed his back from his neck down to his waist. The densest of them were in two scabbed patches starting on his shoulder blades. Where they’d taken his wings? He knew that could not be true.

“You were in the machine too long. Caught between asleep and awake your body was trying to heal while you were still plugged in.” Pale, long fingers delicately traced lines of minute puncture marks down his spine and radiating along acupuncture meridians. “I don’t think it will take much longer to finish healing. I’m afraid I had to cut you out of the life support rig. I always understood that being born from the pods could be a traumatic experience but to have been self-aware at the time. I’m sorry … I’m sorry if the release was not an easy one.”

“I have questions.” So many questions, but where to start? Mykhail closed his eyes. It was easier not to think but to follow the gentle stroke of fingers across his body. The questions seemed a long way distant from him as the taller man kissed his neck. It was so much easier just to feel. What was that sound? He realised he was moaning, small sounds of pleasure as tender lips touched the wounds on his back. It felt like energy was being transferred in the contact. The moans deepened as kissing became licking. He imagined his skin healing at each gentle touch. Finally, unable to stand by himself, he sagged back into arms that were far stronger than they should have been and was carried back to bed.

Night time again. He stretched as he woke, enjoying the feeling of being in his sunlight body and the sensations it gave. He was on his own in the bed, but not alone in the room. Like the previous night the strangely attuned woman and the first of his kind – oh, that had been one of the questions he’d forgotten earlier – were mating. This time, though, there seemed to be less restraint from both parties as if the strength of their coupling matched his physical progress.

They changed position a number of times, the woman’s voice absently expressing her desires. It seemed she had little conscious awareness of the demands she made and, though she seemed to look directly across the room at him, no idea that she was being watched. Gabriel, of course, had recognised when Mykhail was awake. He seemed to have been waiting for their spectator. The final phase appeared violent. While the woman cried out and trembled in her ecstasy Gabriel again made almost no sound, his whole body glowing as light seemed to try and escape him.

The shadow man’s eyes were on fire long after the other two were asleep.