Kissing Death Softly
Kissing Death Softly
Mind Warping, Brain Jacking, Dream Raider; whatever name it went by, it was illegal. And I am a master criminal. That little interface at the back of your skull, the one that lets you connect to the Freespace highway of information, is the tool of my trade. Right now I am floating inside the mind of a woman as she stirs from sleep and I see flashes of her dreams through the night. I hang around in the back of her mind as she slowly opens her eyes and I look out, an unseen entity she will never know about.
That tiny interface to the brain is taken for granted and this woman is no different to the thousand other minds I can ride inside without the host ever knowing. People would spend the day exploring the infinite spaces beyond the physical plane then, when they finish and return to the physical realm, they leave the door open so someone like me can slip in unseen and explore their darkest desires and fantasies.
And I can sell them to whoever I want. The black market for illegal dreams is huge and some of my clients are multi millionaires. Things are lucrative to those with the knowhow to exploit.
Tonight I have been busy and a few hundred miles away my body waits for my return. But this host I find interesting. Her dreams are a cascading collage of intimate relations involving pain and violence. They are shocking and yet arousing in their strange little way. As I watched the scenes playing out, I could see money. Curious, I had drifted to the lower regions of her mind, but was scared away by the darkness.
There is no doubt that Mara is worth a lot of money. By now I would have flipped back to my body, but I want to see how her mind works on a fully conscious level. As she showers and dresses, I watch through her eyes without a spark of emotion; Mara’s waking life is as mundane as mine and I rise up through her thoughts, seeking the door to Freespace and the highway back to my body.
But I am frozen in her mind by a sudden flash of violence as I hear an explosion. In my hand is a gun with smoke from the barrel curling up into the night sky. Only it is not my hand, it is Mara’s. She looks down at the body at her feet and her stilettoed foot kicks it over. The lifeless eyes of a man flashes up at her. I jolt back to the present, staring in the mirror at Mara. A blood red lipstick mouth curls into a smile with a hint of cruelty.
This is not a memory of the past, but one of the future; From her jumbled mind, I pick up emotions of greed and desire. A thought floats around Mara’s mind: you’re worth more to me dead.
I race to her interface and hurry through, searching out the address of my own body. I burst into my head and gasp as I sit upright. The light hurts my eyes for a moment until reality settles down around me and a curious noodle from a left over meal stares at me to remind me how much of a mess my place is in. I jump up, kicking my way through last night’s debris and run my hand through my hair.
There is going to be a murder: of that I am certain. But how can I tell the police? Hijacking dreams was worth at least five years and I am too pretty for prison.
“So what are you going to do, Rick?” a sultry voice whispers in my ear. I spin round and stare at a young woman with curling long black hair, classic red lips and come to bed green eyes.
“Mara?” I stumble away from her, rubbing my eyes in the hope she fades away. When I open them, I can see her walking around my room with a look of amusement upon her delicate face. Panic grips me as I realize my interface is still open and I think the command to close it. She must’ve followed me back and pushed herself into the front part of my mind, projecting an image of herself across my retinas. She isn’t real, but to me in this moment, it is like I could reach out and touch her.
“So are you going to the police, Rick?” Mara asks, her voice a prickling tease. “Tell them all about the woman who wants to murder her lover?”
“How did you follow me back?”
Mara shrugs. “I could sense you this morning, poking your nose into my...” she pauses. “Intimate thoughts.”
I must have come too close to her conscious mind, I curse to myself, annoyed at my own stupidity. I slump into my chair and sigh. “Are you really going to go through with it and kill him?”
Mara gives a wide smile showing perfect whites; a woman that beautiful could trap anyone she wanted to and drain them for everything they had. She laughs. “He wouldn’t be the first.” She looks me up and down. “And he won’t be the last, Rick.”
I feel the blood drain from my face as Mara vanishes. I make sure my interface is closed and this dangerous woman is out of my head. Now alone with my thoughts, I run wild with them. Exactly how much did she learn about me? Enough to go to the police and turn me in? After floating around in the darkest parts of her brain last night, I know what she is capable of, and the police are the least of my worries. In ten years of brain jacking, I have never been discovered. It was a good track record, but discovery was always a risk to a parasite like me.
Pushing thoughts of murder from my mind, I rush around gathering all my saved data files and the emergency cash I have stuffed in the lining of my mattress. It’s a few thousand and enough to get me out of the city, perhaps the country. But I find myself frozen with guilt. I have knowledge of a woman who was planning on murdering her lover for his fortune, and if I do not act, then I am just as guilty for pulling the trigger as Mara Williams would be. In my entire life, I have never felt a desire to do the right thing, but it has all come down to this single point. Do I turn my back and walk away, knowing that my inaction has condemned an innocent man to death? I was a thief, not a murderer.
I decide to call the police and put an end to a lucrative criminal career. As I go to contact the station, I pause as I think about Mara, beautiful and dark Mara. If I call the police, I reason, then it would be the end of my life and the end of Mara. Not acting would just cause the end of one life who I did not even know. My clever little mind begins to justify my continued freedom. So what if some rich guy is murdered? Loads of people are murdered in this city and no one really cares. I relax for a second until I remember Mara’s words:
“He wouldn’t be the first and he wouldn’t be the last, Rick.” I see her eyes looking me up and down in a judging way, her lips a tight line of blood red. She is playing with me, I think, pacing around my room in a haze of self induced panic. She has threatened to kill me in those sweet words of hers.
“So are you going to the police or not, Rick?” Mara’s voice says from behind, though I know it is really within my mind. I turn and look at her, on the edge of my bed with her arms and legs crossed.
“How did you get back in?” I stammer.
Mara laughs. “Once a door is open, it never really closes. You should know that, Rick. I’ve been taking a look around your mind. Full of sordid little secrets, aren’t you?”
I drop to my knees and begin to weep at the feet of the imaginary Mara. “Please!” I scream. “I have money, you can have it all, just don’t hurt me!”
Mara shakes her head and leans close. I imagine I smell her perfume, one of sweetness and bitterness. “Then do the right thing and turn yourself in.”
“But you’re a murderer.” I get to my feet and find myself a new confidence. “Just how many lovers have you killed?”
Mara’s face lights up and her smile is wide. “I have killed ten men in total. You’ve seen just how twisted my mind can be, haven’t you?”
I nod, remembering the images of extreme fetishes where even devils would fear to tread. The woman was as beautiful as she was deadly. The safest place for me would be in prison for a few years. I could take my punishment, come out and start over a new life. The image of Mara gets up and walks towards me. As she stands over me, she leans down and touches my face with the back of her hand. The imagined feeling is too real and I jerk back.
“I guess I’ll see you around, sweetie,” Mara whispers before vanishing.
I contact the police, explaining my own crimes in detail over Freespace. When they come for me, I welcome them and embrace my new life. As they lead me away, I tell them about Mara Williams, hoping the information will save me a few years from my sentence and put her away for a long time.
One of the officers smiles. “You mean Mara Williams the erotic crime writer? Sounds like you’ve been reading her latest book, Kissing Death Softly.”
My heart sinks as I try to untangle the truth from fiction. As I say goodbye to freedom, Mara appears and laughs. “I’ll dedicate the book to you!”