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Ken L Kupstis

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The Daughters of Fire and Jade
By Ken L Kupstis
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rated "R" by the Author.

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You would probably give up your wife for the DAUGHTERS OF FIRE AND JADE...but you wouldn't kill her, right?

But they will, if you just think about them long enough...

K.K.: HORROR WRITER? (www.kk.actorsite.com)
3619 Becerro Dr. Las Vegas NV 89121 *(702) 893-4823


 


 


 


The Daughters of Fire and Jade
By K.K.


 



     This one calls herself Doctor Bowes; no first name given. She’s younger than the other doctors, and pretty in a stressed-out sort of way. The ring on her finger indicates she’s married.
     If that’s the truth, then she’ll be missed. Perhaps she has children as well.
     Pity.
     Still, somewhere on her person, she has keys that will enable my escape. So I bide my time, and let her ask her futile questions.
     “Joseph?” Dr. Bowes asks.
     “Hmmmm.” Is my reply. There’s no point in a Shakespearean monologue; this is an asylum, so when in Rome…
     She scrutinizes me from behind her tortoiseshell glasses for a moment, flips through some notes, then asks: “Who are the daughters of fire and jade?”
     I exhale, feeling like a great weight has been lifted from me. Perhaps it has. Finally, someone dares to think I might be telling the truth, or is humoring me, at least. “Two girls, both nineteen years old. One British, one Japanese. The British girl is Samantha Emberton. The Japanese girl is Miko. No surname.”
     She looks up from her notes, gazes at me steadily, then brings one of my paperbacks into view. "Do they look like this?”
     She has the fifth book in the Triumvirate series: Temples of Ice. On the cover, a svelte redheaded witch and a lithe female ninja stand poised to defend their mutual husband, Alan Trium, from some menacing sabre-toothed tigers.
     I can’t answer for a long time. The cover of the book grows and grows before me until it swallows my vision, and my eyes begin to tear as I look upon the Daughters of Fire and Jade. The artwork is a poor substitute for their actual faces and flesh. But still, it is they,


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/2



and lightning strikes my heart as I see them again.
     “Joseph? Do they look like this?” Dr. Bowes repeats impatiently.
     I just nod. My jaw is hanging open slackly—I’m probably drooling--and I must look like an idiot. I close my mouth and continue to stare at the cover as Dr. Bowes scribbles some notes.
     “Can I have that?” I ask quietly, already knowing the answer.
     “Maybe later, Joseph. I need to know some things, first.” She says in a conciliatory tone. The book disappears into my file, the file that grows thicker all the time.
     I sigh. “What can I tell you that I haven’t already told everyone else?”  
     “Why you killed your wife.” She snaps.
     Short and to the point. Matter of fact. I respect that.
     “I didn’t kill my wife. They did.”
     It’s Dr. Bowes’ turn to sigh. “Joseph. That’s exactly what you’ve told everyone else. It won’t wash. I can’t help you unless you help me. Tell me the truth, Joseph!”
     I slump onto my back, and look up at the one soft white bulb illuminating my cell. “I don’t care if it ‘won’t wash’. I don’t need your help. I keep telling it because it is the truth. Samantha and Miko killed my wife.”
     Hot tears spill out of my eyes as I admit it again. I wish I could travel through time, and undo the past. Go back to the cocktail party where I met Lorraine, and vomit on her. Spill a drink all over her, or tell her that her beautiful gown would look great on a prostitute. Anything, anything at all to drive her away, so she could have avoided me and survived. But no, I can’t travel through time, and I did nothing to drive her away. On the contrary, I charmed her right out of her gown, and into my bed, my life, and her undeserved death.
     I loved her. I loved Lorraine. I loved my wife. I still do, I always will, for all the good it will do me. She just couldn’t compete with the Daughters. How could she? How could one woman, however beautiful or virtuous or sexually skilled, compete with two women, when the heart of almost every male mammal demands variety?
     The Daughters loved her too, at first. They would sit on the bed and admire Lorraine when she came in with coffee or sandwiches, while I dutifully cranked out their tales of glory. Kyomo Kidei Desune, Miko would say: She’s looking lovely as usual.
     There is a long silence, and multiple rustlings of paper, and more sighs, as I look up at the light bulb. Finally Doctor Bowes asks: “All right, Joseph, if they killed your wife, why did they do it?”
      I frown. Why, indeed? They claimed to have been acting out of self-preservation, but what if it was just mere possessiveness?
     Since I’m in a padded cell, the ‘why’ is probably moot, anyway. I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt. “Self-preservation. Lorraine wanted to kill them.”


 


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/3



     “How?”
     “She wanted me to stop writing them.”
     “Why would that have killed them?”
     Good Lord. Dr. Bowes is an idiot. “If you stop feeding something, it dies. Right?”
     “Living creatures, yes. Plants, animals, human beings. But we’re talking about fictional characters here.”
     I sigh, and look up at the light again. “No, you’re talking about fictional characters, Dr. Bowes. Lorraine said the same thing. The Daughters did not appreciate the distinction.”
     There is a long pause, and a scribble of writing. A stab of envy hits me; I miss writing—well, I miss just about everything, being locked up in here—but I miss writing most of all. I wish I could have a magic marker, I’d put some poems up on these horribly blank walls. It’d give the next patient something to read. Who says blank white walls are some kind of avenue to sanity, anyway?
     “Joseph, isn’t it possible that your wife was simply threatening your livelihood by asking you to stop writing your Triumvirate books, and you lashed out at her on a subconscious level?” Dr. Bowes asks scornfully.
     “It wasn’t much of a threat. I was writing full-time, and Lorraine was making more than I was anyway. We weren’t rich but we were doing all right. I was writing other things, anyway; they just didn’t sell like Triumvirate did. Anyway, if it’d been that much of an issue, I just would have divorced her…I wouldn’t have decapitated her.”
     There is a chilly silence, in which I momentarily remember a blurry vision of Lorraine’s beautiful face turning in mid-air as it arcs to the floor, trailing long blonde tresses of hair and streamers of blood. Miko brought her crimson-stained katana back to a guard position, then vanished into thin air as I screamed in horror.
     Dr. Bowes looks at me unsympathetically. She’s probably heard a few dozen murderers say It wasn’t me, it was somebody else, it was my evil twin, it was the Boogeyman, it was Santa Claus, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. My particular alibi might have a bit more novelty, but that’s about all. So she tries again.
     “Joseph, isn’t it just possible that you constructed a fantasy world that seemed better than your actual life, and you killed your wife for intruding on it, or threatening it?”
     I have to massage my temples after hearing the sheer banality. “Oh, I don’t know, Doctor Bowes. Isn’t it just possible that human beings evolved from apes, or President Kennedy wasn’t killed by a lone gunman, or that dairy products really don’t ‘do a body good’?” I growl. The taunt doesn’t change her oh-so-serious expression, though.
     “Then how do you explain what happened, Joseph?”


 


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/4


     “I thought I already did.”
     “No, you said the Daughters of Fire and Jade killed your wife. You didn’t explain how.”
     “It’s not something I like to remember!” I spat. “But since you’ve just got to know, I came into the den. They were all there. Lorraine, Samantha, Miko. Lorraine was erasing all the Triumvirate files on my computer. She had my notes and disks and hard-copies in a cardboard box. I asked her what she was doing, and she said she was doing something
that had needed doing for a long time. I asked her to stop; she didn’t. Then…Samantha said “Stop her, Joseph, or we will.” So I tried, I argued at first, pleaded with her, but she wouldn’t listen, so I tried to restrain her, and she sprayed mace in my eyes, and went back to erasing the files. Obviously you can’t see all that well when you’ve been maced, but I could see Samantha light up the Hand of Glory and point it at Lorraine…”
     “What’s the Hand of Glory?” Dr. Bowes asked.
     “It’s a magical artifact. The dismembered hand of a hanged murderer. Candles are lashed to the fingers, and when they’re lit, the Hand of Glory paralyses whoever it’s pointed at…”
     Dr. Bowes swallows audibly, then says “Go on.”
     “The Hand of Glory paralyzed Lorraine. As soon as she stopped moving, Miko drew a samurai sword…and…cut her…head off.” I almost choke on the words. The memory sears my brain again.
      I had asked Lorraine to stop. The Daughters might have asked her as well…if their weapons could influence the physical world, why couldn’t their voices?…but still, it was a horrid murder, a shocking betrayal, and a crime of passion that I not only witnessed but am now accused of.
     “It’s all right, Joseph, it’s over…” Dr. Bowes attempts.
     “NOTHING IS ‘ALL RIGHT’, DOCTOR! NOTHING IS ‘OVER’!” I roar at her. She recoils from me, then composes herself. I drag myself away from her, fighting back tears, then look up at the light again.
      If I look up into the light long enough, my vision blurs—as anyone’s would. But if I don’t blink, or close my eyes, the blur grows, and spawns wild colors, and it is in those colors that they live, and enter our world, and come to me. The Daughters of Fire and Jade.
     Their beauty alone is enough to drive any man to his knees. God knows it’s enough for me. But even if it were not, they possess horribly lethal powers. Even at her tender age, Samantha claims to know the secrets of the Wiccans, Druids, Rosicrucians, and the Knights Templar. She can command the elements, call down fire, heal any illness, and assume any shape…although why she would assume any shape other than her own remains a mystery and shame. Even at nineteen, her breasts are large, firm and supple, like two huge scoops of ice cream topped with strawberries. Her flesh is a flawless alabaster, her hair a cascade of copper curls, the color of fire, providing her namesake.


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/5


     Miko had been the slave of a ruthless Kyoto warlord, born and raised by one of his concubines to serve as a Geisha. However, her quarters had shared a wall with the barracks of his ninjutsu academy, and there had been a hole in its wall. Unable to sleep with the constant Kiyais shouted on the other side, she’d spent night after night watching the ninjas train. Eventually she began duplicating their movements, then their attacks and defenses, mimicking their Kiyais in the twilight, until she had become as effortlessly
 lethal as they. Even more lethal, as no one would suspect this quiet, slender girl with her dark, downcast eyes to be able to break their legs with a Sliding Hook Kick.
     Separately, Samantha and Miko would be any man’s fantasy.
     Combined…bracketing your body between theirs, feeling their lush, warm skin over lithe and experienced muscles…tasting two sets of soft lips on yours, mere moments apart, then tracing their way down your body to a fine and private place…watching you fuck the other with a lusty smile and in fact urging you on…then loving each other while you relaxed after orgasm…knowing these perfect lovers would SHARE themselves with you…
     A lot of men probably would kill their wives for that.
     But I didn’t. The daughters did.
     I know that, and they know that, but nobody else does. So I’m damned.
     Unless I can prove otherwise…
     I close my eyes tightly, almost painfully, and force myself to remember the sword-stroke of Miko’s ninja-to as it slashed through the back of Lorraine’s soft neck. Then I open my eyes again, and stare desperately at Dr. Bowes.
     “Doctor Bowes…” I whisper feebly, almost a croak. “Do you have a copy of the coroner’s report about Lorraine?”
     Dr. Bowe’s gaze meets mine. She blinks, and frowns. “Not with me, here, but it’s in your main file. Why, Joseph?”
     Why, indeed? I had begun a certain train of thought, but it had stopped right after leaving its station. The last doctor had put me on certain medications, and the doctor before him had put me on some, and my brain might as well be cornbread at this point. But there’s something important about Lorraine’s decapitation…besides the fact that it fucking killed her, of course…something that would make it impossible to convict me of the crime.
     Alan Trium would know, he’s the imaginary genius who married the Daughters, at least in my hack fantasy series…hack! What a fitting word that is, for a doomed writer.
     Hack.
    And in my mind’s eye, Miko’s sword comes down again. This time, I notice that both Samantha and Miko are crying as they kill my wife. At that moment, I prayed to become Alan Trium, to vanish with the Daughters into whatever literary netherworld I’d conjured them from, where we’d have sex and adventures happily ever after. Instead of being hauled off to jail, and then the madhouse.


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/6


     From somewhere, Dr. Bowe’s voice stabs me like a sword. “Why do you want to know about the coroner’s report, Joseph?”
     “SHUT UP AND LET ME THINK!” I snarl at her. She recoils, and so do I. I crawl backwards like a drunken crab, shoving myself into a corner of the padded cell, closing my eyes again.
     Trium’s a private investigator, of course; all pulp fiction has to have a private
investigator in it. Gotta ‘keep it old school’ as my literary agent used to urge me. In the Triumvirate books, he’s an oversexed Mike Hammer. His libido probably sold an extra thousand copies by itself. But in between romps with the Daughters, he actually did his job. He investigated, he questioned people. People like coroners…
     Miko’s sword comes down again.
     Hack.
     I take a deep breath. I open my eyes. I look at Dr. Bowes. “What was the murder weapon they said I killed my wife with?” I ask.
     The doctor’s eyes open a bit wider. “A machete. You had one in your garage.”
     I nod. I close my eyes again, and in the courtroom of my mind, Alan Trium stands up to testify. “And every wound from a metal weapon leaves traces of the metal in the wound. Isn’t that right?”
     Dr. Bowes frowns. “I—I’m not a metallurgist, Joseph. And I only have slight experience in forensics—“
     “Listen to me. You’ve got to get the coroner to compare that machete with any metal traces in…in…” I want to say Lorraine’s body, but I can’t. Not just out of grief and horror, but the raw shock of the implication. That if there are traces of metal in her that don’t match the machete, it means I’m innocent, and sane. But it also means my wife was murdered by a fictional character. One of my Daughters, if you will, who only exists in my mind, and in the books I used to write, once upon a time.
     Dr. Bowes inhales audibly, then says “Well, I think that’s enough for today, Joseph…” And she gets up to leave. “I’ll be back to talk to you tomorrow.”
     Oh, God, no. She’s leaving. She doesn’t even care what I say, this has just been some perfunctory exercise in corporate psychiatry; the Actress At Work. “You’ve got to talk to that coroner, damn it!”  I rave, and in my own voice I hear the pathetic desperation of the truly insane.
     Standing at her full height now, Dr. Bowes arches an eyebrow. “You need to calm down, Jo—“ and stops in mid-sentence.
     She continues standing, stock-still, the eyebrow still arched. Staring at me.
     From behind her, between her body and the door she was going to use, a robed leg takes a step forward. And a hand, clutching another hand, this one dead and withered with five ancient candles bound to its burned fingers. And now a body, a young fallen


 


 



KK/DAUGHTERS/7


angel with long tresses of coppery red hair. A smile graces her lips as she sees me again.
     My heart thunders with love, and awe, and terror.
     From the other side of Dr. Bowes, a lithe shadow slides forth into reality, coalescing into colors; onyx eyes, olive skin over high black leather boots, and the bright but unforgiving smile of a sword…
     I know what the Daughters want, but I don’t know what I want, and it seems like I’ve got mere microseconds to figure it out. They can kill Dr. Bowes, like they killed my wife, and I could escape with them into some ongoing nightmare of fugitive schizophrenia, or I
can pretend I’m Alan Trium, and try to talk them out of it, and hope that Dr. Bowes survives and talks to that coroner…
     “WAIT!” I scream, the only word that might work on any or all of them.
     Ooohh, but we ‘ave waited, Joseph, far too long…Samantha calls quietly. And her slim white fingers burst into flames, with which she begins to light the candles, as Miko raises her sword.
     Dr. Bowe’s eyes swivel left and right for a moment, trying to see something that can’t possibly be there, and then they look upwards, as if seeking divine intervention…
     Suddenly two more shadows erupt from behind the Daughters of Fire and Jade; coalescing into rippling muscles and manes of long savage hair. Samantha’s Hand of Glory is chopped to the floor with one swift stroke of a Viking hand-axe. Miko’s sword-stroke is restrained by the mighty triceps of an Apache brave. The Viking and the Apache are holding the Daughters back, and it seems that they want to be held back…why not? The bodies of these two prototype Alpha males put mine to shame.
     Dr. Bowes clears her throat. “You’re not the only one who knows how to write fiction, Joseph.” She looks from side to side, and her avatars clutch mine tighter. “Like I said, I’ll be back to talk to you tomorrow. Maybe we can talk about what just happened to my husband…”
     I can only nod, slowly, as the Daughters and their captors fade into Dr. Bowe’s shadow. But their eyes are the last to fade, looking at me, looking at her, looking at each other with delicious possibilities…
     “Maybe we can talk about matches made in Heaven…or somewhere else.” She says, with a slight tease in her voice, as she leaves my cell.
      And I can only begin to think about what just happened…and what might happen next…as the door locks behind her.    


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Reviewed by Robert Montesino 6/20/2006
The Daughters of Fire & Jade is a masterful piece of work, the dialogue is captivating, the plot imagnative & original and the ending most memorable with a twist that left this reader awe-struck. Great work Ken! Looking forward to reading more from you!
Reviewed by Lee Garrett 3/26/2006
A very original and interest concept beautifully executed (no pun intended).


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