Incarnations V:

Choosing Littleness






Near Future

Sex: Not explicit

Violence: Yes

Feed the Bard:

Incarnations I: The Chosen Road

Incarnations II: The Garden

Incarnations III: Vortices

Incarnations IV: Quietness

Kara made her way along the sidewalk. The wind picked up and blew her long black hair into her face, and she pulled it back into a loose knot. Then she walked onwards, long strides carrying her swiftly. She knew that this area of the city was dangerous. It was a run-down district and riddled with crime. She also knew she was more of a danger to anyone who threatened her than they were likely to be to her.

She was on her way back to her cheap, rented apartment after another day at the university. She was twenty-seven and had completed the second of her doctorates three years previously. Her titles meant little to her except in so far as they allowed her to obtain funding for her research projects. She sometimes thought that she would do better to make money in some other and more effective way, such as going into business. But she acknowledged that she had no interest in this and was hence unlikely to be successful.

She turned a corner and made her way down a wide street with tall, narrow houses on each side, all joined together. Just two streetlamps were actually lit and not broken. Their dim light reflected from the water on the ground. It had been raining most of the day.

Ahead of her, three cars were parked at angles in the middle of the road. Between them she saw a number of figures - six or seven men and women - standing around someone, delivering a beating.

She broke into a run. As the huddled form in their midst came into view she saw that it was a woman, blonde and quite small, curled up on the ground, trying unsuccessfully to fend off their blows. They were clearly taking their time with her, wanting to torment her. She did not doubt what the end would be - rape, and then being left dead or dying. She also saw a grim purpose in their actions. She suspected that this had been planned.

She reached them, then ran from the sidewalk and leapt over the hood of one of the cars, landing before them.

'You'll stop that now,' she said quietly. But she knew that they heard her. And they stopped.

Two of the men lunged for her then. Kara felt a curious gladness that now she could release the adrenaline that had surged within her. She struck and kicked high, span and slammed her fist into a face. When bullets were fired she was not where they had been aimed at.


Eleanor looked up. She saw the chaos of the fight. She took in the lightning swiftness of the woman who fought against her attackers. She heard the crunch of breaking bone, the concussions of guns, the cries and grunts of pain. Then, with astonishing swiftness, all stilled except for moaning gasps from one individual and the dripping of gasoline onto the road.

The woman squatted down beside her and held out her hand to her, gently brushing her fingertips across her cheek. 'You are hurt,' she said. 'But we have to go now.'


A week later, Kara was in her apartment, going over some data. She had eaten a simple meal that she had cooked herself - not well, she thought, and wished she had ordered take-out. When the phone rang it took her a few seconds to rouse herself from the numbers that filled her mind.

'Hello?' she asked after picking up the phone. It was rare for her to receive a call from anyone. She did not have any friends, and her colleagues only contacted her at her office or laboratory.

'Is this Ms. Barton?' asked a deep but gentle male voice.

'Yes, it is.'

'This is Vincent Weekes. Eleanor's father.'

'Oh, hello,' Kara said. A small smile came to her face. 'Is Eleanor all right?'

'Yes, she's actually doing quite well. I just wanted to thank you for helping her out.'

'It was nothing. I'm just glad I was there.'

'Well, I'd like to thank you properly, and so I'd like to invite you over for dinner. Tomorrow, if you're free. I won't take no for an answer. I don't think Eleanor will either.'

Kara did not reply for a moment. She had very much wanted to contact Eleanor to check on her recovery and to suggest that they meet up for a coffee or for no reason at all except to see her and spend some time with her. But she had not done so. Through the numbers that filled her mind she had glimpsed a possible future that had made her decide to wait for a few days. Now that Eleanor's father had contacted her, various possibilities had collapsed and new ones had appeared. She now felt it would be safe to meet Eleanor and talk with her. 'I'd like that,' she said once she had calculated that this was the case.

'Good. I think Eleanor is hoping you'll like whatever she decides to cook,' said Vincent Weekes, and Kara smiled as she heard embarrassed laughter and protests in background. 'I can send a car for you if you wish.'

'That's all right sir,' Kara said. 'If you could just give me the address and a time. I'm free tomorrow, so I'll be happy to come by.'

A few minutes later, Kara stood and turned the light off, then walked across to a window and stared out into the night. A fine drizzle was falling and the wind was quite strong, gusts and water hissing against the pane. It was early March and there were a few mounds of slushy snow at the edges of the street. The illumination from streetlamps, a set of traffic lights and some neon signs from a couple of shop windows were reflected in uneven paths across wet asphalt. On the corner was small Chinese restaurant she occasionally went to. The few people she could see hurried against the unpleasant weather.

After a while she closed her eyes and allowed numbers she was familiar with to scroll through her mind. She was able to make the calculations that identified the exact nature of the reasons she had not called Eleanor earlier. She was glad that what she had glimpsed was the same as what was now revealed. Had she done anything differently the results would likely have been destructive, and not only to the two of them.


The following afternoon, Kara took a shower and then dressed to go to the Weekes' place. She managed to annoy herself by taking far longer than usual choosing what to wear. In the end she just chose a pair of new, light blue jeans, a brown leather belt, good boots that came to just above the ankle, a black t-shirt, and a black pullover of loose-knit wool. She wore no make-up or jewellery - she very rarely did. As she left she pulled on her long black coat and took her umbrella with her.

Outside, the cold and blustery wind was quite strong but at least it was not raining for the moment. Walking to a florist a couple of blocks away, she bought a single yellow rose. Then she took a half-hour bus ride to a quiet and leafy suburb, and walked a further mile and a half to the Weekes' residence.

As she neared the place she wondered at the size of the mansions all around and their large, perfectly cared for grounds. She took in the walls and security, expensive cars and other signs of considerable wealth.

The Weekes' place was just over a rise and around a corner in the road such that it had no visible neighbours. Large cypress and oak grew tall near the walls of the estate.

Kara made her way to the gate and pressed on the buzzer. After a few seconds a woman's voice said: 'Weekes' residence. May I help you?'

'Hello, this is Kara Barton. I'm here to see Eleanor and Vincent Weekes.'

'Please come up to the house.'

The gate slid open quietly but Kara noticed that it was of heavy steel and not merely for show. The top was spiked, as were the walls. As she made her way up the curving, tree-lined drive the house came more clearly into view.

It was large but somehow its architecture suggested that it was for comfort and use and not ostentation. She suspected that part of it was quite old, perhaps from around 1900, but that it had been extended and altered. The drive led around the side to some garages.

Kara walked up the front steps and rang the doorbell. A few seconds later a woman of about forty years old answered the door. She was smartly dressed quite attractive.

'Kara Barton?' the woman asked. At Kara's nod she stood back. 'Please come in. I'm Susan. Come through to the living room and I'll let them know you're here.'

Kara shook the woman's hand - which seemed to surprise her slightly - then followed her through the large foyer, past a sweeping staircase and into the living room. She looked about her and saw the tastefulness of the rich furnishings. There was a certain amount of artwork on display but she suspected it was simply what the Weekes liked and that it was not famous or particularly expensive.

'Ah,' said a deep voice, and a man stepped through a wide doorway from what appeared to be a billiard room. 'Ms. Barton I presume?' He was about fifty, tall and rather portly, with thick grey hair that was swept back. His eyes were a clear light brown. He was wearing a tuxedo, the shirt partly undone at the front, the bow tie simply slung about his neck, and had battered, dark green slippers on his feet.

She nodded. 'Call me Kara. Mr Weekes?' she asked.

'Call me Vincent. Sorry about my appearance. Some damn stupid function I had to go to earlier. Has Susan offered you refreshments?' He quirked a grey eyebrow at the woman.

'I was just about to,' said Susan with a smile.

'Oh, I'm all right thank you,' Kara said.

Vincent walked across to her and, after Kara had put down the rose she had been carrying upon a coffee table, he took both of her hands in his - and Kara noticed that Susan made a discreet exit.

'I want to thank you,' he said, shaking her hands with his words for emphasis and looking into her eyes - they were about the same height. 'I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your help, and I will not forget it. My daughter means everything to me. You understand?' He looked intensely at her and she saw the conviction and the kindness in his gaze.

'I'm just happy I was there,' Kara said. 'Although I wish I'd arrived a couple of minutes earlier. Is Eleanor all right?' She had taken her to a hospital to have her checked out and then settled her into a cab to take her home. She had regretted that she had not been able to see her all the way.

'Bruised and a bit shaken up,' he said, glancing away. 'You know her physical injuries weren't serious. Still, such a thing is very traumatic. I think she's been sleeping all right though.'

Kara heard swift footsteps from a hallway off the living room. Then the footsteps slowed and Eleanor Weekes stopped in the doorway. She was wearing a long grey skirt and green blouse, comfortable shoes and a cooking apron. A happy and excited smile lit up her face and her green eyes sparkled. Kara could not miss the genuine delight and pleasure there. Goddess, she seems so pleased to see me, she thought, very surprised. Then she marvelled at Eleanor's beauty, the outer loveliness that she had combined with the beauty that seemed to shine from within. She felt her heart beat more quickly and felt slight warmth come to her face, mirrored in the charming, subtle pink blush that touched Eleanor's cheeks.

After long seconds they looked away from each other. Then Eleanor said: 'Kara.' Her voice was quiet, gentle and kind. 'I'm so glad you could come.'

'I'm happy to be here and see you again,' Kara replied. As Vincent released her hands, she took a couple of steps towards her even as Eleanor walked across the room and stopped in front of her. And they just looked at each other again, smiling.

'I'm sorry I couldn't see you all the way home the other day,' Kara said. 'And I'm sorry I didn't call to check on how you were doing. I . . . ' She trailed off. She wanted to explain but it would be difficult to do so. She wondered if Eleanor would think her crazy.

Eleanor just gave her a smile. 'I understand,' she said, and for a moment Kara wondered if she really did. 'Sit down if you wish, make yourself at home. I think my father wants to interview you, and perhaps he'll entertain you too while I ready the last of the meal. Is that all right?'

Kara smiled and nodded. Then, suddenly remembering, she turned and picked up the yellow rose she had brought, and handed it to Eleanor. 'For you,' she said. 'I just thought . . .' But somehow she did not quite know how to finish the sentence.

'Oh, Kara,' Eleanor said, smiling again, and Kara saw the glimmer of tears in her eyes. 'That is so kind of you.' She looked at it, then raised it to her nose. 'I love yellow roses.' For a few moments, she looked from the rose to Kara and back. And then suddenly she jumped and glanced at her watch. 'Oh, I need to check the meal. I'll get a vase for this too.' Looking into Kara's eyes again she said, softly: 'Thank you.' Then she made her way from the room.

Kara sat at one end of a comfortable leather sofa and Vincent sat in an armchair. He seemed to be thinking about what he had just seen, probably not having missed the emotion that was so obvious between his daughter and Kara, put perhaps not understanding it. Then he seemed to shake himself free of his considerations and said to her: 'Please, tell me about what happened. I'd like to know. Of course, Eleanor has already told me, but I'd like to hear it from your point of view.'

'Well, there's not that much to tell,' Kara said. 'I was walking down the street on the way home from the university and saw these men attacking Eleanor. I chased them off, and hurt one or two of them. I saw three cars, none with number plates. All of them wore masks. You know the shifting type that look like faces constantly melting and being reformed in different ways? I told the police when they interviewed me at hospital but I don't know if they followed anything up.' She glanced about her. 'I didn't know you were wealthy, or what you do. Do you think it was a planned attack?'

'I don't know,' Vincent replied, shaking his head and looking a little afraid. 'It is possible.' Then one side of his mouth twitched and he looked at her sceptically. 'I heard you did rather more than chase them off and hurt one or two of them.'

She shrugged slightly. 'Well. I've trained in various martial arts for a long time. I guess I was just lucky and took them by surprise.'

He regarded her steadily and she knew that he did not believe her, but she did not volunteer any more information and he did not push her.


Four evenings later, Kara stood by the couch in her living room and looked down at Eleanor's slumbering form. She had suggested that she stay the night, for they had been talking until late. Eleanor had agreed to take Kara's bed but she had fallen asleep as Kara had gone in search of a toothbrush and towel for her.

You are like an angel , Kara thought, taking in the shortish, light blonde hair, the gentle features, the cute nose that sometimes wrinkled charmingly when she smiled, and the eyes that were closed now, hiding her soft green gaze. I met you just a few days ago but I feel so strangely and powerfully connected to you. I've fallen in love with you . She tilted her head then, happily puzzling over the matter. The feeling seemed to be one that was both familiar and ancient, though she knew she had never known it before in her life.

She settled a blanket about Eleanor and a pillow beneath her head, grinning at a sleepy, confused half-question before the blonde settled back into deeper sleep.


The following Saturday, just before six in the morning, they awoke in Kara's bed. For a while they just lay there together, enjoying the closeness and warmth and sleepy comfort that filled them. Kara lay upon her back, her arms wrapped about Eleanor, while Eleanor lay upon her side, her head upon Kara's shoulder and an arm about her waist.

After a while they got up and showered together. Then, entirely predictably, they found themselves returning to bed to make love at great length. They were passionate and tender, marvelling at each other's beauty, filled with awe and emotion.

Eventually they slept again, holding each other and drifting into happy dreams where they were together.

Once they finally made it out of bed, they prepared and ate a large and leisurely breakfast. They chatted a little, and shared tender looks and touches, both of them amazed and wondering at the newness of what they had found together, the connection that had so quickly formed between them. A curious mixture of vulnerability and excitement mixed in them.

After clearing away the breakfast things they decided to go for a walk. The weather was not good but they were glad to be out in the cold and windy air for a little while. After an hour of strolling in the streets and in a park, they returned home and were glad to get back into the warmth.

They prepared a large pot of tea and chose some snacks, then settled down on the sofa beneath a blanket, snuggled up together, and spent the afternoon watching two films that they chose together, neither of which was very serious but both of which were entertaining.

In the evening Eleanor said that she would like to cook. For a little while Kara simply watched her from the kitchen doorway, fascinated. She saw the small smile that sometimes touched Eleanor's mouth and the glow of happiness that was revealed in her gentle expression. She knew that Eleanor was slightly self-conscious about Kara watching her but she also saw that she was pleased and actually amazed - simply astonished that Kara was so captivated by her and regarded her with such love.

They ate by candlelight and took their time with the good food.

Later they went for another, shorter walk. Then, back home again, they relit some candles and listened to quiet music and cuddled upon the sofa, lying along its length. Soon enough Eleanor fell asleep in Kara's arms, her head upon her chest.

And for a long time, Kara simply lay there and wondered. As the atmospheric music ended, she listened to the wind that buffeted the windows and whined about the building, and to the occasional noise of traffic or sirens in the city. But mostly she listened to Eleanor's slow, quiet breathing, and savoured the press and warmth of her body against her, and was filled with a sense of peace she had never known before.

The dimly flickering light of the last of the candles they had lit burned down. Still Kara did not move, but basked in the warm glow of happiness that filled her. She felt so glad about her life now, so utterly content, so calm and also excited, now that Eleanor was with her. Yet again she watched the sleeping form, the gentle rise and fall of Eleanor's breasts with each breath, the gladness that was revealed in the suggestion of a small contented smile that touched her face even in sleep. She traced the shape of her beautiful face and gently ran her fingers through her blonde hair. She breathed in her lovely scent.

At length Kara closed her eyes. She did not sleep but wondered about the numbers that she could summon, the immense calculations she could execute that could describe and predict so much. She recalled times when she had been lost in deep fugues and had glimpsed distant and sometimes terrible futures. Even now the import of the numbers hammered at her as she sifted through a simple, shifting mass of them, barely pausing in her calculations but merely seeing straight through them.

She saw and understood that she could be something extraordinary. She knew that she could live her life in a way that would make others marvel at her. She wondered if she might even be able to significantly change the future - though she would only do so if she could be sure that her actions would be beneficial to others in the long run, and she was not confident that she ever would be very sure.

But she did not want any of that, though she would do what she could to help others where she might.

She wanted just to be with Eleanor, to have days like this. Even the quiet moments, or just watching videos together, had been blissful. She did not need anything spectacular and did not want it. She rejected some of the paths that she had been heading down. Her life could seem little to others, passing without any real impact, unnoticed - though anyone looking closely would be able to see her happiness. But to her, the apparent littleness that their lives might have would be greater than anything she had ever hoped for.



The End


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