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As Joby had predicted, the weather turned. It rained. It rained interminably, day-in, day-out. Even in a house the size of Woll's, deprived of the great outdoors to roam about in, the Indigo-ites began to get cabin-fever. They missed the Indigo, the cluttered intimacy of it, and the younger ones missed performing.
The staff and the estate-workers quite rightly congratulated themselves for having got in an abundant harvest ahead of the monsoon, but it seemed they were prepared to go on congratulating themselves all winter. Yes, it is intensely satisfying to see full storehouses and larders in the autumn, but there are after all only so many intersting conversations to be had about broad beans!
The Indigo-ites were beginning to find out just how interminable country life couldbe, and with the weather severely curtailing their activities, they found themselves more and more at the mercy of the staff, who were quite happy to see them confined to their bedrooms and sitting-room, and only allowed downstairs at meal-times.
"They won't be happy until they've turned us into a nursing-home made up entirely of Wolls", said Julian, storming along one of the first-floor corridors with Hillyard "I cannot stand several more months of this!"
"No one's asking you to", said Hillyard, pausing at a window and staring out at the rain lashing down outside "I'm as fed up with it as you are. The staff are even getting on my nerves, and it takes a lot for that to happen! One of those daft housemaids has taken to leaving pictures of nude men on my breakfast tray. She must cut 'em out of a magazine or something".
"Why?" said Julian.
"To get at me for liking men I think", Hillyard sighed.
"Annoyed because you're not pinching her arse on the stairs, is that it?" said Julian.
"Probably", said Hillyard, glumly.
"Well it must gall them", said Julian "Here you are, the new fabulously-wealthy master of the estate, still relatively young and good-looking. An excellent catch by their standards, or by anyone's come to that, and you prefer an aged he-relic like me!"
"I think that's about the size of it", said Hillyard.
"You shouldn't stand for it though, Hillyard", said Julian "Not that kind of disrespect. They owe their cushy lifestyle here to you. After all, you could have closed this place down. You were under no obligation to keep it going as it is".
"I know I should care, but I don't", said Hillyard "I'm more concerned about Kieran. I just find it a bit irrating sometimes that's all. They obviously haven't got enough to do!"
The only one of the Indigo-ites who was never annoyed or intimidated by the staff was Tamaz, who simply ignored them as being not worthy of his time. The silly cackling housemaids, who were continually waging vendettas against men (men of any kind that is) were particularly beneath contempt as far as he was concerned. He nicknamed them Fatty, Ugly, Tarty, Oldie, and The Other One (Lilli, whom even Tamaz couldn't think of an insult for), and then ignored them. Oldie was in fact a young girl of 16, but she was so sober and level-headed, and downright dull and sensible, that she often came across as more like a 55-year-old.
Tamaz had more pressing concerns than the antics of the maids to worry about. Mieps preyed on his mind constantly, so much so that he was desperate to get him out of his hair, and went to see him at his end of the house on the same afternoon Julian had been pacing the upstairs corridors with Hillyard.
"Not trying very hard today are we?" said Mieps, fingering an old shirt of Joby's that Tamaz was wearing "I prefer you in girly-mode".
"Tough shit", said Tamaz, standing in the middle of Mieps' room "When are you moving out of here? You were supposed to leave as soon as we got here".
"Oh look at the rain", said Mieps, dolefully "There's only one thing to do on an afternoon like this, and you must agree or you wouldn't have come down here to see me".
Mieps began to play with the buttons of his flies suggestively. He sat down in an armchair with his knees apart. Tamaz suddenly had an unwelcome image of himself administering a blow-job to Gorth. Normally he managed to successfully repress these unsavoury memories, as being too upsetting to recall. These days he didn't like reminding of Gorth, or Father Dalman, or any aspect of his cold, grasping, loveless existence before he got together with Joby.
"Such it yourself you old snake!" Tamaz screamed at him "No one's treating me like that again. No one!"
He turned to run out of the room, but Mieps bounded to the door and grabbed him. Tamaz hissed and struggled, like a rattlesnake caught on the end of a stick.
"I'm not going to hurt you", said Mieps "But I need you, I can't get it up without you".
"Well aint that the shits!" Tamaz snarled.
"I only start living when you're around!" Mieps cried "What is it you want me to do to make you have time for me? Name it and I'll do it".
"You can't do anything", said Tamaz "Because you're not capable of love, all you do is despise it as some human weakness".
"But I do love you, in my own way", said Mieps "If you looked at it, you'd see it's not much different to how Joby is with you".
"I'm not leaving Joby!" Tamaz squawked.
"I'm not asking you to", said Mieps.
"It's not that I hate you", said Tamaz, calming down "Not really, but I never thought I'd feel for anyone like I do him. I don't want to give up that feeling, it means too much to me. I don't know what I'd do if I had to go back to living without it".
"Then you know how I feel now", said Mieps, triumphantly "Even if I managed to persuade some human to take me on, which is very doubtful, what would they be, but some anaemic local, some weary creature without spark, no ginger in 'em. Not like you. You're magnificent, Tamaz".
"Maybe so", said Tamaz, jabbing his finger at him "But I'm not giving up Joby for you. No way!"
Mieps sat down on his bed and patted the covers.
"Stay with me for a few hours, until the moon rises", he said "There's going to be a full moon tonight, with this cloud and rain it should be a dramatic sight. Stay and wait for it with me".
When it went dark they didn't bother lighting the lamps. Tamaz and Mieps sat on the bed, with the eiderdown pulled up around their naked bodies, watching the full moon through the window as it speeded through the clouds. Tamaz sniffed the air, aware that Joby was coming through the house to fetch him. He waited with a quiet thrill of anticipation.
Joby hated this part of the house, not (as some would reasonably suppose) because Mieps was in it, but because it always struck him as unbearably silent. He wasn't aware that anyone else slept in this part of the house, and he felt a pang of sympathy for Mieps for being stuck here, like some distant undiscovered planet in the Solar System. As he hurriedly stalked the silent, unlit corridors, he was uncomfortably reminded of the trek through the woods at Marlsblad. The full moon, the feeling that the Gorgon was only too near ... he half-expected Tamaz and Mieps to have both sprouted snakes' heads from their hair when he reached them! As it was, when he opened the door, two pairs of amber giaconda eyes turned to look at him.
"How the hell do you stick it in here, Mieps?" said Joby, coming into the room "This wing gives me the creeps".
"It helps if you're weird like he is!" said Tamaz.
"You're both weird", said Joby "Come on Tamaz, put your clothes on. I'm taking you back to our room".
"You're pretty extraordinary yourself", said Mieps "Not many people would want to walk alone into a room of Ghoomers".
"There's nothing we could do to Joby", said Tamaz, reaching for his drawers and putting them on.
"Turn me to stone?" said Joby.
"Why do you say that?" said Tamaz, sharply.
"Nothing, just a feeling I had walking here, that's all", said Joby "It was the moon shining into the corridor, it unsettled me".
"It can have that effect", said Mieps "We are pulled to it spiritually a lot more than we think, particularly us Ghoomers. Hecate was one version of the Moon Goddess, and one of her pseudonyms is Gorgo".
"Tell me what the truth behind the legend is", said Joby, sitting down in the armchair "Do you know, ever since I've been in this world I've heard about the Gorgon, and even more so since Tamaz came into my life, but I don't know where she comes from. I never thought to ask. Kieran once told me about the Hecate connection, but before I came into this world, all I knew was that the Gorgon was some creature out of ancient mythology. A beautiful priestess who was cursed for having sex in a temple, or something like that".
"The old legends are often entertaining stories that grew out of a true origin", said Mieps "If you go back further than your ancient myths, you will find that she has always been with us. Not as a high priestess either, that was dressed up for public consumption. The Gorgon was a monster, pure and simple, how could she be anything else with her ghastly powers? She is a monster ... from before time".
"That's a frightening thought", said Joby "Are you the last of the most ancient race of all, is that it?"
"Not us", said Mieps "The ones Tamaz so charmingly refers to as 'the lumps' are the last, or perhaps not the last, who knows?"
"That was Kieran's fault", said Tamaz "I never wanted to be impregnated".
"But because of Kieran that generation will be different", said Mieps.
"Because he put them into Phyllis' care, and she loves them", said Joby, automatically "The first Ghoomers to have ever known love from babyhood onwards".
"Tamaz and I are from a race of monsters, Joby", said Mieps, sombrely "Unfeeling freaks of nature, a race of monsters from before time. It if wasn't for the fact that in both of us our male side is predominant, you would not be able to sit here now, during a full moon, and talk to us face-to-face. You would have been gorgonised by now".
"But Kieran could face you", Joby muttered, more for his own benefit than theirs "He faced Her. The only mortal to have ever done so and lived".
He suddenly felt faint, as he always did on the rare occasions when he gave Kieran's mysterious and unknown power his fullest consideration. He realised then that it wasn't only the Gorgon's origins that were shrouded in mystery, so were Kieran's. Oh, he knew full well that Kieran came from a B&B in Killarney, that was a physical fact, but what were the origins of his power?
You can drive yourself mad with such thoughts, like trying to calculate the highest number in existence, or the weight of the Universe.
"Joby?" Tamaz was leaning over him in concern, his bare breasts nearly touching Joby's face.
"I'm o.k", said Joby, gravely "Just my brain's not built for taxing thought, that's all!"
Mieps fetched him a glass of water from the tap over the sink, and then lit a lamp, which helped to dispel some of the highly-charged psychic atmosphere which had built up in the room.
"Would you like something stronger?" asked Mieps "I've got some sloe gin here".
"Of course Kieran would say it's all just love", Joby continued, as though he'd been voicing his thoughts aloud all along "That love is the most powerful thing, that that's all that matters, and he's right! He's right".
"Have you ever thought that time can go full-circle?" said Mieps, pouring out the gin into mugs and glasses.
"Yeah, I've heard that one before", said Joby "Like some people believe we all keep going round in the same groove forever, and that's what accounts for deja-vu. I've never believed in that one meself, mainly because I can't see the point in it. What would be the point of suffering and all the rest of it, just to keep going round in the same loop?"
"No, I don't mean individual people", said Mieps "I mean everything, all time. Here we are in the 41st century, but who says so?"
"Because the centuries are calculated from the year of Christ's birth", said Joby, parrot-fashion, as though repeating a catechism "And this is the 41st century, 4000 years after his birth".
"Exactly, it's not based on anything more solid than that", said Mieps.
"Kieran might argue with you about that", Joby laughed.
"What happened to the years before AD 0000?" said Mieps.
"They went backwards", said Joby, draining his glass "God knows why, always looked bloody complicated to me! Look, you can't be serious! I'm not a physicist, but I know the point of time is that it has to move forwards, if that wasn't the case we wouldn't age with every minute that passes, whether we like it or not. We sit here getting older, not younger, and your revamped looks don't mean a thing, because you're still 40-years-old, not 39 or 38. People have messed around with time, chopped days out of the calendar for instance, and look at us, we crossed 2000 years! But in spite of all that, nothing can alter the fact that I've only aged 20-odd years in ... well 20-odd biological years. That would only change if we were moving through deep space. What I'm saying is time, real time, only obeys its own law of moving forwards in perpetual motion. It doesn't take any notice of calendars or clocks. I could stop that clock on the mantelpiece, but time would still carry on moving forwards. We could've crossed 10 years into the past, not 2000 years into the future, but I'd have still been 20 when I did ... I think. I'm not sure if we could've crossed into our own lifetime now, that would've made two of me, or would one of me have ceased to exist? What the hell do they put in this stuff?!"
He held up his glass. Mieps laughed and topped it up.
"No, seriously", he said "Joby, you crossed 2000 years into the future".
"Correct", said Joby.
"Believing it WAS the future", said Mieps.
"Well it wasn't 2000 years into the past!" said Joby.
"No, but how do you know you crossed 2000 years into the future?" said Mieps.
"Because of the date", said Joby "The year was 3999, everybody was talking about it because it was the eve of the 5th millennium, and they were all making a song-and-dance because it was prophesied that the Vanquisher of Evil would turn up then".
"But you've just said yourself that calendars are irrelevant to the natural law of things", said Mieps.
"What exactly are you trying to say?" said Joby.
"We all THINK this is the 5th millennium", said Mieps "That this is the 41st century. We all THINK that, because the calendar tells us so, and that's the way it's been calculated. What if in reality, disregarding dates, we weren't moving into the future, but were instead back at the dawn of time?"
"That is crazy!" said Joby "Completely crazy! Everybody knows what the world was like in its very early days. It was all steam and eruptions and lava flowing, and what-have-you. Nothing like this for a start!"
"I mean, BEFORE time, Joby, not the beginning of it", said Mieps.
"That doesn't make any sense at all!" said Joby "You're trying to say we've gone back to BEFORE THE BEGINNING?! That everything, ancient times, my time, this time, has all go to be gone through AGAIN?!"
"Sounds tedious", said Tamaz.
"You're telling me!" said Joby.
"Take no notice of Mieps", said Tamaz "He's spent too long living alone in a tin-shed!"
"Sleeping down here can't help", said Joby "I couldn't bear being around here, not with all those empty rooms surrounding me. Tomorrow, you'll have to find yourself a room closer to the heart of the house".
"You're being very reasonable towards me", said Mieps, as Joby stood up to leave "Why?"
"I feel sorry for you", said Joby "Like I'd feel sorry for any poor sod who fell in love with Tamaz! I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy!"
"Particularly as Mieps can't have me", said Tamaz, haughtily "Not properly anyway".
"Oh c'mon", Joby grabbed him by his sleeve and pulled him out of the room.
They walked along the darkened corridor, back towards the main portion of the house. Tamaz slipped his little hand into Joby's, and Joby glanced at him fondly. As they passed a stair-well they heard voices from the floor below.
"I recognise those plummy tones", said Joby, leaning over the bannisters "Julian's down there".
He and Tamaz went down to the ground-floor corridor, where they found Julian and Hillyard standing outside an imposing locked door. Julian was holding a lantern, and Hillyard was fumbling with a large ring of keys.
"Have you been with Mieps again, you little trollop?!" said Julian, when he caught sight of Tamaz.
Tamaz sheepishly inched behind Joby's back.
"What are you up to?" Joby asked them "Who's sealed up behind there then?"
"Hopefully no one", said Hillyard, selecting another key and trying that one in the lock.
"This is the chief steward's, or rather ex-chief steward's, own private wine cellar", said Julian "All for his own personal consumption apparently. No one else was ever allowed to go into it".
"It's like unlocking an old tomb", said Hillyard, selecting yet another key.
"Yes I do feel rather like an Egyptologist", said Julian "I just hope there isn't a curse attached to it. We've got enough to contend with on that level at the moment!"
"Nothing else has happened has it?" said Joby "No more messages from Codlik?"
"Only some whiney little piece asking Hillyard when he was going to go back to Toondor Lanpin and cast his golden presence over everyone", said Julian "Fulfilling his governor's duties and all that. I can just picture his little pursed prim lips as he wrote the message!"
"I've told him I'm not going back until I feel more relaxed about Kieran", said Hillyard.
"That could be ages yet", said Joby.
"Particularly as we've only got Tinker Belle's 'instincts' that something is still wrong", said Julian.
"At this rate it might be easier to invite the population of Toondor Lanpin to come and see me here!" said Hillyard.
"That's not such a bad idea", said Joby "It'd shake this lot up a bit!"
"Oh, darling Ada's looking for you, Joby", said Julian "Don't look so alarmed, you're not in trouble. He's organising a chain-gang, sorry ... work-gang, tomorrow, to go and clean up some of the rooms in Woll's old wing. Wants you, Kieran and Freaky to join in the fun".
"That wing does need doing", said Hillyard "Woll was so shy I don't think he liked the staff going into it much whilst he was still alive", the key he was trying turned in the lock "Hey, we're in!"
"Open sesame!" Julian cried.
The door creaked open to reveal row upon row of wine bottles stacked neatly on the shelves.
"Well he certainly didn't stint himself", said Hillyard.
"And I bet you'll find it's all good stuff too", said Julian "No cheap table plonk here. Grab a few bottles, Hillyard, we'll take them to dinner with us".
Hillyard selected 3 bottles of red and passed them to Joby.
"I'll get all covered in dust and cobwebs", Joby protested.
"Oh stop grizzling", said Julian.
"I don't expect Woll had any idea this little lot existed", said Hillyard "Sort of thing that gets me angry if I stop and think about it, but there's no point. Things are different now".
"Exactly", said Julian "No room for fat cats around here".
Joby went up to his room to change his shirt before dinner and found Drusica, one of the maids, in there, putting a match to the fire.
"It's not very seasonal this weather", she remarked, in her rather breathy voice "Last year we had it nice right up to November".
"Yeah I know, but we often get heavy rain in September", said Joby "At least we did in Toondor Lanpin anyway".
"Not as cold as this though I'll bet", said Drusica, as though this subject was of worldwide political importance and they must clinch an agreement on it soon.
"Well you never know, it might turn nice again in the near future", Joby sighed.
"Then again it might stay like this until Christmas", said Drusica.
Joby felt that he would go raving mad if this topic was pursued much further, and announced that he was going down to dinner.
"Oh your friend Lonts appears to be in a bit of a state", said Drusica, lowering her voice confidentially, even though they were alone in the room "I could hear him in his room just now. I wouldn't mention it only Mr Adam's downstairs at the moment".
"O.K, I'll go and see him", said Joby.
"I expect the rain's getting him down", said Drusica, as a parting-shot.
Joby found Lonts lying on the floor of his bedroom, screaming his lungs out. It was apparent he'd been doing this for some time.
"What the hell's the matter with you?" Joby barked "And you've messed yerself, I can smell it. Get up and I'll sort you out".
"Adam's taken my bag away!" Lonts cried.
"What bag?" said Joby, getting out the rubber-sheet which Adam used to change Lonts on.
"My travelling bag", Lonts cried.
"What the fuck do you want that for?" said Joby.
"I want to go back to the Indigo!" said Lonts.
"Lonts!" said Joby, in exasperation "We have this everytime we stay anywhere. I remember you lying on the floor of the Governor's House at the Village of Stairs and carrying on in exactly the same way. Come over here".
He got Lonts on the bed and began to undress him.
"I don't understand you", said Joby "Here we are, we finally move into a house that's big enough to put you in, and all you can do is scream 'I wanna go back to the Indigo!' We all wanna go back to the Indigo, but we've just got to sweat it out a bit longer. In the meantime there's loads of things you could do here. Why don't you explore the place? I bet a house this size has underground tunnels and secret passages, and priest-holes, which might come in handy if we have to hide Kieran!"
"It's no fun doing that on my own", Lonts pouted.
"You don't have to do it on your own", said Joby, patiently "There are a dozen of us here. Take Bengo with you, or Tamaz, or Toppy".
"Toppy's only interested in furniture", said Lonts, sulkily "I don't see what's so fascinating about chairs. All you do is sit on them".
"Or smash 'em up and use as firewood, which is what I expect you'd do given half the chance!" said Joby, getting a clean nappy out of Adam's kit-bag.
"I'm not putting that on!" said Lonts "It's daytime!"
"No it's not, it's gone dark", said Joby "And I thought you might like to get into bed ... and SLEEP!"
"I haven't had any dinner yet", Lonts boomed, indignantly.
"Are you ready to be civilised now, Lo-Lo?" said Adam, coming into the room "Oh dear Joby, has he had an accident?"
"Yep", said Joby "He was screaming his head off so much I'm not surprised he couldn't control his bowels!"
"This is what happens, Lonts", said Adam "When you don't keep a level-head about things".
"Can't we tranquillise him sometimes, Ad?" said Joby.
"Joby doesn't mean that, Lo-Lo", Adam cooed, stroking Lonts' stomach "You'll feel better tomorrow. We're going to have such fun in the East Wing. We're going to breathe life into it".
"It won't know what's hit it", said Joby.
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