ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES
What Lies Ahead
"Do it to me, oh yeah, oh don't stop, that's so good..." Tommy arched upward as Louis's teasing finger breached him and he came hard in Louis's hot, tight mouth.
Louis's hot, tight, very male mouth. He'd done it again. Shit.
"I just lost my head," Tommy said miserably. "What the fuck, I'm not gay!"
"I believe you, buddy," Louis slurred, wiping the back of his hand across his sticky lips. "You're drunk, is all. C'mon, drive you home."
They staggered to the car. Louis drove, a little too fast. Tommy's stomach turned over. He stuck his head out the window and was sick.
Tommy never saw the guy wire extending at a diagonal from the telephone pole to the road bed. He was leaning well over the side of the car when the car swerved onto the shoulder. His head fit neatly in the triangle between wire and pole.
One minute Tommy was alive and the next minute, the wire sliced through his neck like a cheese cutter slicing through cheese.
"I just lost my head," Tommy said miserably. "What the fuck, I'm not dead!"
"I believe you, buddy," a disembodied voice slurred. "You're a ghost, is all. C'mon, try to keep it together." Some force deposited his severed head in his arms and pushed him along into the gloaming.
Tommy shivered all over. Holding his head quite literally in his hands, seeing his own headless neck above him, was enough to make him sick again. He dropped to his knees and to his dismay his head rolled across the wide expanse of mist.
"Hold on to your head, little one." A dark-hooded specter scooped up Tommy's head and placed it back in his arms.
"Oh shit oh shit," Tommy chanted, seeing that there was no head inside the hood.
The specter let his hood drop, revealing his headless torso, and slipping his detached head from his belled sleeves, carefully seated it on his neck. A quick pat to be sure his face was forward, a quick smoothing of a band around the join in the neck, and his head was once again part of his body.
"How the fuck did you do that?" Tommy was astounded.
"Velcro." The bluest eyes he'd even seen met Tommy's. "Best invention of your era. Believe me, it beats the old catgut stitches."
"Oh shit oh shit," Tommy chanted.
"You'll get one, too," the specter said reassuringly. "After you're punished, that is."
"I'm going to be punished? I just lost my head, it's not fair!" Tommy's arms shook and he held his head tighter.
"Of course you'll be punished for losing your head." The specter shook his own head. It wobbled slightly and he carefully readjusted the velcro band. "There are always consequences for losing your head."
"I don't want to be punished!" Tommy cuddled his now crying head in his arms. "What consequences?"
"I imagine you'll be whipped. That's pretty standard." The specter laughed hollowly. "If I were you I'd save the tears for when you really need them. Not that they'll do you much good, but waste not, want not."
"Whipped? I'm going to be whipped? I don't want to be whipped! I don't believe in corporal punishment!" Tommy wailed.
"You probably don't believe in ghosts, either. Both beliefs, or lack thereof, are going to do you just about as much good," the specter said sourly. "You're a ghost now, Tommy, and you're going to get the whipping of, what shall I say? Your life? Your death?"
"Stop scaring him, or you're going to get a spanking yourself." A short figure materialized alongside the teasing specter. Restraining him with one hand, it swatted him hard with the other.
"Zachary!" the specter yelped. "Where did you come from? Ow! Okay!"
"Oh shit oh shit," Tommy chanted, as Zachary reached up, unwrapped the specter's velcro neckband and lowered his severed head so that it was face to face with his own.
"When I tell you to stop, you stop," Zachary scolded the blushing head he held in his hands. "I trust we see eye to eye on this now?"
"We do! I'm sorry! You're embarrassing me," the head said. "Please, put my head back, I'll be good!"
"Behave." Zachary returned the specter's head to the specter, who hastily redid his velcro binder. "Or else."
"I'll be good," the specter said hastily. "I don't relish the thought of riding with a blistered butt."
"You headless horsemen are all alike." Zachary shook his head. "If you want to sit comfortably, all you have to do is behave properly."
"I will, Zachary," the specter promised. "Good luck, Tommy, I've got to go haunting." He vanished as abruptly as he'd appeared.
"Come along, Tommy, you're going to be punished." Zachary's quiet statement brought Tommy's attention back to the matter at hand.
"No! Please, I don't want to be whipped!" Tommy protested. "I've never been whipped before, I'm going to die! Please don't whip me!"
"What you want has very little to do with what's going to happen," Zachary said. "And you just lost your head, what are the chances a whipping's going to kill you?"
"I know it can't, I'm already dead!" Tommy said logically. "But it's going to hurt!"
"Not half as much as your dying hurt the people you left behind. Listen." Zachary focused his energy and Tommy heard the sound of weeping.
"I don't want to think about this! I didn't mean for this to happen! I just lost my head!"
"That's exactly my point."
"You're making me sound stupid!" Tommy snapped.
"*I'm* making you *sound* stupid? Tommy, you got drunk, had sex with a guy you barely knew, leaned out the window of a speeding truck and got your head sliced off! Enough said? Now don't give me a hard time, just go through that door and let's get this over with." Zachary sharpened his tone and drooping, Tommy obeyed.
"Put your head down on the desk, Tommy. Put it in the center where it won't roll off; it's had enough hard knocks for one day. Come here and bend over please, you're getting a whipping."
Tommy watched as his body did as it was told. He tried to remember high school biology; he'd barely passed, but at least he'd sat through the class. Something about sensation and perception... How could a whipping possibly hurt, if his brain wasn't attached to his body? This whole thing was a farce.
But wait... Tommy could feel Zachary taking his arm, steering him towards the couch. He could feel Zachary's hands at his waist, undoing his jeans. He could feel cool air on his suddenly bared butt, he could feel the threads of the upholstery against his belly as he was bent over the back of the couch...
He was going to feel that whipping, too.
"No! Please, I just lost my head, I didn't mean for this to happen, I'm sorry! No! NO! NO!!" Tommy's poor severed head was sobbing hysterically.
Long accustomed to punishing heedless headless ghosts, Zachary nonetheless felt sorry for this young one. He believed in discipline, not cruelty.
Shh..." Zachary eased the headless torso into his arms and reaching towards his desk, handed Tommy his tearful head. He seated himself on the couch and drew Tommy into his lap. "Hold onto your head, please, and try to listen to me. Shh, deep breaths now, pull yourself together, you're all right. Shh..."
"I'm not gay, I'm not dead, I didn't lose my head," Tommy sobbed, ignoring the fact that he was cuddled in Zachary's arms, no longer alive, and headless.
"Would it be the end of the world if you were?" Zachary asked gently.
"I don't want to be gay, I don't want to be dead and I don't want to be whipped!" Tommy cried harder.
"I know, little one, I know." Zachary alternated between rubbing Tommy's back and gently stroking his hair back from the streaming eyes of his severed head. "Shh..."
"I don't believe this!" Tommy wailed. "I don't want any of this! I didn't ask to be gay, I didn't ask to be dead, I didn't ask to be punished!"
"Shh..." Zachary abandoned the idea of punishing Tommy while the young ghost was this miserable. He had all of eternity, after all. "Shh, it's all right, I'm not going to whip you, calm down, Tommy, there's no need to go to pieces."
"I'm already in pieces!" Tommy sobbed harder. "I lost my head and I don't know who I am anymore! I'm scared!"
"Shh..." Zachary took the sobbing head in his hands and wiped its tears with a gentle touch. He kissed its lips lightly. "Tommy, you're in good hands now, I'll take care of you, you don't have to be afraid of anything. Shh..."
Zachary's lips felt good on his own. Tommy opened his mouth to the kiss. His body sank into Zachary's as Zachary cradled his head, kissing him deeper.
"This is too weird," Tommy muttered.
"Much of existence is," Zachary said softly. "It's all right now, Tommy, I'm going to get you straightened out. You need a neck wrap and you need a few basic lessons in keeping your head and yourself together and then you'll be all right."
"Lessons," Tommy said doubtfully. "Am I going to like these...lessons?"
"Some of them more than others, no doubt." Zachary kissed Tommy again. "You're doing fine with the gay thing. We'll work on the rest."
"But do you have time to deal with a boyfriend who's just coming out and who's not a very together person?" Tommy asked, sniffling. "Who's kind of, you know, all over the place sometimes?"
"I've got nothing but time, Tommy," Zachary said with a smile. "And it's all yours now."
For LS, Halloween 2004