Published in Issue 5 of Visionary Tongue, Autumn 1996.
The neon light over the bar gave the three women’s complexions an eerie glow.
‘So,’ Angelica said, regarding each of her companions in turn, ‘have we seen anything we like?’
‘How about that one?’ Nina nodded towards a dark-haired man, dressed from head to foot in black leather.
‘Oh, please,’ Tabitha sneered. ‘Do you have to be so obvious?’
‘It was just a suggestion,’ Nina huffed, flicking her long auburn hair over her shoulder. ‘Got any better ideas?’
‘There… that one,’ Tabitha said, pointing at a blond youth in jeans and a ripped T-shirt. ‘What do you think?’
‘Not bad,’ Angelica admitted, ‘but we can do better.’
Three pairs of eyes – green, blue, and brown – scanned the bodies that littered the dance-floor.
‘I could do with a drink,’ Tabitha said, glancing in the direction of the barman slumped over the bar. ‘Pity he’s wasted.’
Angelica smiled, her teeth brilliant in the ultra-violet light. ‘Then help yourself. He’s in no position to complain. And while you’re about it, make mine a large vodka.’
‘I’ll have a whiskey.’ Nina put in.
‘Okay.’ Tabitha stepped onto her stool and slid over the bar. ‘We’re going to have to decide soon,’ she said as she filled the glasses. ‘They’ll start going off.’ A line of Guinness foam edged her upper lip. She handed the others their drinks and climbed back over the bar.
‘I want the dark one.’ Nina said, easing herself from her seat and picking her way through the motionless bodies. ‘Come and see, Moonchild.’
Angelica joined her and leaned over the man, ‘He’s sweet, Dark Lady?’
Tabitha frowned. ‘I prefer the blond. He’s younger. Young ones are easier to raise.’
‘And to teach.’ Nina conceded.
‘But I still think we can do better…’ Angelica skipped over to the bar, and grabbed a fistful of the barman’s long, dark red hair. ‘We appear to have over-looked the obvious,’ she said, raising his head so the others could see his face. ‘This one’s young, and sweet… and strong.’
Nina and Tabitha looked at each other and smiled.
‘Moonchild does it again,’ they said in unison.
‘Help me, sisters.’
Together, they eased the man on to the floor, then joined hands and formed a circle around him.
‘What shall we call this child?’ Angelica said.
‘We shall call him Lazarus: he whom we raised,’ Tabitha answered.
‘We shall call him Endymion: beloved of the Goddess,’ Nina said.
‘We shall call him Paul: the name his mother gave him,’ Angelica finished.
‘Lazarus.’ Tabitha kissed his forehead.
‘Endymion.’ Nina kissed his mouth.
‘Paul.’ Angelica kissed his heart.
Hands still joined, the women sat back and waited. First, there was the flicker of a pulse in Paul’s throat, then his chest began to rise and fall as air passed through his lungs. Finally, his eyelids fluttered and opened.
Before him were three beautiful faces, each framed with long, silken hair: red, black and moon-silver. For a moment the faces blurred, then his focus sharpened. He tried to sit up.
‘Ow!’ he said, clutching his head.
‘Shh ,’ Angelica said, ‘Don’t try to move just yet.’
‘What happened?’ He seemed to remember smoke; red, black and silver smoke, but no fire. ‘What happened?’ he said again.
‘We came…’ Tabitha said.
‘…And chose you.’ Nina smiled.
‘All will become clear in time. You are with us now. Come.’ Angelica stood and held out her hand. Paul grasped it and she dragged him to his feet and led him outside, the others following.
He remembered smoke… around him were dead bodies. ‘A fire…’ he said.
‘No fire, just smoke,’ Angelica said, ‘Our veils.’
Outside the club, the night was still; the sky black and moonless.
‘Who are you?’ Paul said.
‘Moonchild,’ Angelica answered.
‘Dark Lady,’ Tabitha said.
‘Eclipse,’ Nina smiled, passing a hand across her face.
Paul glanced up at the empty sky. ‘What happened to the moon?’
The women smiled, and took his hands in theirs. As they rose into the air the night seemed to fold around them.
‘Lazarus,’ Tabitha said, kissing his forehead.
‘Endymion,’ Nina sighed into his mouth.
‘Paul.’ Angelica traced with her forefinger the shape of his heart.
A sphere of light closed around them and Paul felt himself melting into it, into them. As a child, he’d spent many nights watching the moon grow from finger-nail to penny then shrink away to nothing, leaving the sky empty and hollow, until it was ready to return. He’d always felt how lonely it must be with only itself for company. Suddenly he understood. Three women, one Goddess; three phases, one moon.
He looked down from his bed of weightless indigo. The city below was little more than a half-glimpsed memory.