A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Poppins’ Return

Chapter 6 – Guns, O-rings, and good luck

“There are primarily two kinds of attacks that the enemy can use against you: temporal and direct.” Marly was seated across from me at the little table, the little vase and flower put up on the mantle so that we could see each other unobscured. I liked the view. I didn’t like the way that she was using ambiguous terms like “the enemy” though…

“Temporal attacks are my problem for the time being,” she continued. “You will need to concentrate on the direct attacks.”

“This sounds like warfare,” I said bluntly.

“Well, in many ways, it is. There are definitely opposing sides, and the stakes are lethally high.”

“Are you saying that someone can actually kill me with time?”

She looked at the pattern of wood on the table for a few moments. “Not time itself, but by changing events so that you are forced into a lethal path.”

“Huh? So our enemy can do that? How do we defend ourselves?”

“We have a number of tools at our disposal, but I think you might want to wait to hear about them…” I could tell that she had come upon one of those touchy topics again. I wasn’t going to let her off the hook so easily this time.

“Hey, you started this! Give me the whole enchilada.” I was smiling. “What would a temporal attack look like?”

“Alright,” she relented. “Suppose you are driving in your car a few days from now, and just as you start down a steep hill, you find that you no longer have breaks and that you are headed directly into a busy intersection.”


“Not in the sense that you are thinking of it. After they drag your body from the twisted wreckage and check the car for foul play, it will be determined that it was just plain bad luck that your breaks failed at the wrong time.”

“But how! I know that my breaks are fine. I replaced them just a month ago.”

“Remember the O-ring guy at NASA? One tiny little decision at just the right point makes a big difference. Events such as that could be set in motion to influence your breaks as well. What you need to remember is that your wake is trackable on our temporal lake. The enemy can look at where you are headed and make fairly precise guesses as to where you might be in the near future. With that in mind, they can ‘steer’ other people or events into your way with deadly accuracy.”

“But if that’s the case, then I still don’t see how we can do anything about it.” I had visions in my head of Willie Coyote and his ever increasing bad luck. As if reading my mind, Marly picked up.

“Fortunately, I have a plentiful supply of very good luck.”

I laughed and then noticed that my tutor wasn’t joining me.

“What? Are you serious?”

“Mark, luck is a tangible thing in the world of non-linear time. Being able to guide one’s own destiny is almost as quantifiable as gas in your car or eggs in the fridge. Having good luck is like being able to turn your boat quickly to avoid one event or steer into another. Being able to turn on a dime is something I am trained to do very well. You might say that I have a great rudder.”

“I’ll say!” I chimed, grinning at her. She groaned and rolled her eyes. I sobered up and then continued. “So what you’re saying then is that as long as you’re around, you can steer me clear of danger?”

“Or possibly see it coming. I can’t interpret the ripples of time, but I can recognize other people’s wakes. Do you know anything about submarine warfare?”

My eyebrows went up. “I saw ‘The Hunt for Red October’ a couple of times… Does that count?”

“Barely,” she replied dryly. “Every vessel on or under the water has a propulsion system that pushes it, and a shape that gets pushed. The act of moving through a medium such as water, by nature means that something is moved out of the way to make room, and then moves back when the thing has gone past. The bigger the vessel, the greater the amount of disturbance. This disturbance causes waves of pressure to oscillate outward in a very recognizable pattern. More so, the propulsion system also creates its own disturbances that are even more unique. So much so, that if you know what to look for, you can pick out individual kinds of vessels and even specific craft, simply from their ‘signatures’.

“Non-linear time is a lot like that. I can look for certain patterns of events that are the pressure waves caused by someone else’s temporal wake. If I’m paying attention, I can know exactly who is at work around me, right down to the individual.”

“Wow… That’s kind of like sonar.”

“Yes it is,” she said with a very warm smile. “Which is why I’m not so worried about temporal attacks so long as I’m around. But direct attacks are much more serious.”

“Are we talking guns here? I hate guns.” It was true. I have more than just your garden variety distaste for firearms. It could stem from the fact that both my parents were murdered by small calliper weapons…

“You might be at risk from a gun, but not likely. Guns are very hard to conceal at the temporal level. They have big wakes, and so are less likely to be used as an attack weapon.”

“Guns have wakes?”

She nodded. “Any object that gets used by a being, takes on some of the wake of the user. Even after the user may have removed themselves from the object, the wake of its effects lingers on. Guns usually have pretty powerful impacts on people and other objects, so naturally it stands out a bit like a beacon.”

“Okay,” I said leaning back in my chair. “If they aren’t using guns, then what other kinds of direct attacks are there? Knives? Oh, I guess that would follow the same lines of thinking as guns.”

“That’s right,” she replied, nodding sharply. “Any object that has been made lethal would carry a pretty big wake with it. But that doesn’t mean that I can spot every weapon directed at you. At any given moment, there might be hundreds of potentially deadly weapons in your direct vicinity. Half the people who pass you on the street these days are carrying some form of defense, whether it’s a knife, a gun or a can of pepper-spray. You simply can’t steer clear of them all. You’d end up spending your entire life indoors. The trick is knowing which weapons are a threat to you, and which are just normal everyday human paranoia.”

“And you can do that,” I asked, frowning. I didn’t like the idea of having to watch my back all the time, but it was seriously looking like that was going to be my way of life for now on.

“I can, to an extent. If an enemy were to simply walk up to you with deadly intent, I could see them coming a very long way off. But if the enemy orchestrated time in such a way that you just happened to be in the way when somebody runs out of a bank door carrying a bag of money and a gun, well then I might only have a second or two of warning. That’s not enough time before the guy decides to put a hole in your chest just because you happen to be in the way.”

“And THAT’S what you want me to be ready for?! Holy shit, Marly! I’m a business major, not a Navy Seal… I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to defend myself against that.”

Her face took on a sad puppy-dog look. “I know that, Mark. That’s why I’m here. That’s the ‘guide’ part that I mentioned earlier, remember?”

I cocked my head in disbelief. “Are you a Navy Seal, Marly?”

“Do I LOOK like part of a Seal team?” She was sitting upright. It pushed her breasts forward in that delightful way.

“No, but I bet you I could find a dozen guys who would be happy to be your soldiers if you wanted to command one,” I replied smiling. She gave me that sigh and tight-lipped grin that meant that she wasn’t amused.

“I’m not a Navy Seal, if it means anything to you. But I AM combat trained by some of the very best warriors on the planet.”

My eyebrows arched towards the ceiling again. “Really?”

“Just try me,” she challenged.

It was tempting, that’s for sure. I mean, wrestling with Marly, no matter what the outcome would probably be worth it. I bit my lip and squinted at her, sizing up my little dinner date from an opponent’s view. From what I had seen of her body (of which not much was hidden)(Correction, there was plenty hidden!) she wasn’t built like a fighter. Sure, she looked to be in shape, but she couldn’t have weighed more than 120, 150 tops. But that didn’t mean she was an easy take-down. She could have all sorts of martial arts skills that were hidden just beneath the surface. Thinking that my ego was bruised enough lately, I decided to let it go.

“Maybe some other time.”

“Smart man,” she said locking eyes with me. “Although I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to pin you down and see if that kiss was just a fluke.”

This got my attention. Neither of us blinked for almost half a minute, daring the other to break eye contact.

“And you think I would resist this?” I asked finally.

“No, perhaps not. Shall we continue?” The lusty lilt in her voice that I had noticed moments earlier was gone. I had a hard-on the size of Texas. “The reason I need to instruct you is that I can’t be around you at all times. When I’m there, I’ll deal with most of it. But you’re going to have to be on your own at times, and that’s when you need to be ready to handle anything that might get thrown at you. I can provide a great deal of luck, even from a distance, but that will only take you so far.”

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “Are you saying that you can make me lucky? And that this luck will keep safes from falling on my head and such?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying,” she replied straight-faced.

“How? By altering temporal paths?”

“Among other things, yes.”

“Can you show me?” This was a test. I had been waiting for a chance to throw something like this in, just to see how she would react. A complete loon would turn down such an offer because, well, they’re loony. But if she were telling me the truth…

“Put your left hand out at your side, palm up.”

My eyes widened a bit, and my heart rate shot through the roof. Slowly, I extended my arm.

“Now what?” I asked, cautiously.

“Wait for it…”

Suddenly, someone down one floor used the hot water. The heater fired up, and a huge gurgling rumble filled the room. I knew the sound well, and at first it didn’t even register. Then I picked up a faint ringing sound above and behind me and I turned to see what it was. Just as I did so, the little vase with the flower rattled off the mantle and dropped squarely into my hand. The rumble faded slowly back into the wall and turned into a low moan. I just stared at the vase in disbelief. If my hand had been a half inch off in any direction, I would have missed it and the fragile crystal would have crashed to the floor. It was impossible that Marly could have faked such a demonstration because it required that I was perfectly placed. I turned my eyes back to hers, my mouth hanging down at my knees.

Marly had a crooked grin. “It’s not a safe, but I think you get the idea.”

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