DCU: Ultimate Desire #4
1932, Sixteen years since the night Desire had been imprisoned.
Roderick Burgess was in the throes of passion, bucking like a tiny rowboat on a stormy sea. She rocked with each motion he made, pressing herself against him in hopes that he pleased him enough that he would allow the translucent cloth that he wrapped around his shoulders to drape over her. It was said to be a truly magical thing, this cloth. Its very touch brought arousal to new peaks. Its very fabric shuddered deep beneath the skin and awoke nerves and sensations that were never thought to exist.
And with a grunting sound not too different from that a hungry boar would make, Roderick Burgess reached his peak and felt the pressure that had been building in his loins break free.
His heart was not far behind.
But not quite yet.
* * *
Alex Burgess was celebrating his thirty-eight birthday among friends and neighbors when he realized his father was not at the table. He tossed his gaze across the room, and upon finally certain his father had not chosen to join them at the table, rose and gave some excuses as he made his way to the stair well.
"Alex," a young woman whispers to him, "The people are waiting," she worriedly looked around the room, "And your father… he is..doing well I suppose."
Alex stared at the woman. She did not resemble anyone his father knew. She was probably some friend of his. Or some associate. But he always felt all women look alike. He raised his glass towards her in a stylistic pose and clinked the surface with his knife. People all turned to focus on the direction of the noise. "People…people… you’re attention please."
Heads turned towards where Alex and the unknown woman stood. Alex offered a friendly smile and then raised his wine glass before his own face. "May I call for a toast," he loosened his necktie, "Many things have happened this year. Some good, some bad. "
Murmurs in the crowd showed their assent with his words. Alex stared at a brown-haired handsome man by the fireplace and threw him a smile. The man smiled back. Alex turned away from the man, not wanting to reveal himself to the assemblage, and turned to face the stairwell, "And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the man who has brought me to this world but sadly chosen to be absent from this special occasion. A toast to my father. May he find the happiness he had long been seeking before the end comes." Uncomfortable silence followed, with many finding his choice of words strange. Then half-hearted applause as Alex brought down his now empty wine glass and followed the staircase to the higher floor.
The unfamiliar woman stroked her hair back and glanced at the stairwell Alex took. She considered following but knew to do so was to reveal her intentions too soon. She opted to bide her time and mingled with the guests, laughing at their empty questions and half-focused words.
Alex found his father asleep in bed. He was naked save for the translucent cloth which he demanded to never be taken from him. Alex grimaced at the soiled bedding and sour odor of long stagnant sweat. He wanted to drag his father off the bed, force him to bathe and perhaps burn the old bed to replace it with a newer…. CLEANER bed. But he knew to touch his father was to be recipient of another scourging and bout of insults. And that was the last thing he wanted.
"Perhaps the Indifference found you at last as well, father," Alex murmured, uncertain of what ailed his father. The answer, of course, was something Roderick Burgess was learning in his dreams.
Desire remained silently waiting, staring at the two guards who kept a good distance from the glass prison. Neither ever looked at him in the eye, having learned from previous mistakes how powerfully influential Desire could be when he catches one’s gaze. Both, too, were deaf. Desire’s whispers were more dangerous than any know poison.
But Desire was not afraid. He knew time was on his side. And that soon, so would be freedom.
Roderick Burgess was walking down a long corridor filled with many paintings and statues that seemed unfamiliar to him. A pillar held the immortalized image of a naked woman who’s head was adorned with ram’s horns. The painting showed a young child standing amidst a burning field, on his feet lay the remains of a shattered crystal vessel. Another held the image of a great woman shaped from clay receiving a golden kiss from heaven.
"May I help you?" a wizen looking man with spectacles, thinning hair and almost pointy-ears asked aloud. Roderick Burgess turned to face the man, staring at his finely cut clothing that seemed perhaps Italian or French in design. The man had a large book in one hand and a raven sitting on his shoulder.
"Where-" Roderick began to ask but decided to try and show some respect for hospitality first. He was, after all, an educated man. "My name is Roderick Burgess. May I know your name, sir?"
"I am Lucien and this is my area of responsibility. Have you come to contribute an entry to this library of unwritten and unfinished things?" Lucien asked, adjusting his glasses to see the man better.
"Am I dreaming?"
"You are within the Dreaming, that much is correct," Lucien nodded and turned as if to speak to the raven on his shoulders, "Inform the master. We have a guest." The raven, much to Roderick’s surprise, took to the air on cue and flew down the corridor. Roderick struggled to make sense of where he was, but it seemed that all the books within view had strange symbols and markings rather than words. A nearby window gave only the view of an endless night sky filled with stars. Roderick had barely time to register everything and turn to Lucien to ask another question when he found himself in the presence of a pale man dressed in dancing shadows.
"It is not customary for the master of the house to be summoned by his seneschal and librarian," the pale man addressed Lucien, then turned to Roderick with an expression-less gaze, "You are Roderick Burgess. The Daemon King of the Order of the Secret Mysteries. You have one of my siblings in your house."
Roderick realized who he was speaking to, though he mistook him to be another one.
"You are Death!"
"No. I am not Death. But you will know my sister soon enough," he replied calmly, with no hint of venom or ill in his voice.
"I… I made a mistake. I did not mean to-"
"What man does and intends are rarely the same thing. But responsibility is not waved from ignorance or error. There shall be a price to pay for your actions, Roderick Burgess. And this price is one I cannot avert," the Dream King calmly spoke.
"You… you are threatening me," Roderick Burgess felt the blood seep from his face. He remembered his son, Alex, whom had run away from him many years ago, only to return with a business and a successful future already in his hands. Only his return came with a price and that was the lack of ever having a son. Alex Burgess had come home to come out to his father. And yet, Roderick believed his son would someday realize that his fancy for men was but something temporal. And that the want for a heir would come in time. "Fine. Do as you wish! I have lived a ripe old age. But leave my son free of this."
"I can only promise you, Roderick Burgess, that vengeance shall be enacted only to those who had taken from my sibling what was rightfully not theirs to take," the Dream King replied, "Now go. You are no longer welcome here."
Roderick Burgess awoke in tears. He found his son standing by his bed, and reached out to hold him. But his son shook his head and left the room, too afraid to face his own father… to afraid to see how weak he had become.
A soft knock came a few minutes later, even as Roderick resigned himself to the loneliness his life was to embrace as routine. He lifted his gaze, so the the same woman he had once shared the bed with. The same woman who made him feel more like a man than anyone ever did.
* * *
"This remains a triumph of the order," Roderick told his son and passed away. The gathered bowed their heads in solemn respect. Alex wept openly, caring not for the judgmental eyes that would see his effeminate ways. Candles burned low as the physician declared Roderick Burgess dead. The Order of the Secret Mysteries collectively bowed their heads before Alex and pronounced him as the successor of the order and sole holder of the title Daemon King. Alex, however, simply continued to weep.
At the far corner of the room, a woman carefully slipped open the door and made her way out of the house. Her legs, covered with run-filled stockings, carried her across the square rather quickly as she made to escape. Occasionally, she would run her hand inside the cloth parcel she carried, and smile secretly as her sex grew wet from touching the robe she had stolen.
And beneath the household, in a basement that had long seem better days, Desire smiled and new it was very near now. He noticed a mark on the far side whose paint and paper had stained from the leak on the wall. And he could already see how eventually a small thing such as a drop of water shall suffice in brining his freedom.
* * *
The Indifference continued to grow. There were so few countries now where its presence had not reached. Doctors, physicians, psychologists and priests remained oblivious to its source or its cure.
* * *
Desire continued to wait.
I knew there was no denying what Desire itself wanted.
Everything succumbs to Desire in the end.
- end of issue 4 -
by Tobie Abad
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos