“She’s not even blinking now, Lizzie. Boy, is this getting worser and worser, or what?” Psycho Voice giggles.
I am not amused. In point of fact, I’m so stunned, I don’t know what to say.
Finally Pen shifts in her seat, and sighs like her world just crashed into an invisible force field. Very quietly she asks, “Liz, did you really record that? It didn’t sound like you.”
Mortified, I barely nod. “I-I must have. Nobody else had access to my tape recorder.” I stand up and pace. Anxiety floods the marrow of my bones. “But I don’t remember saying these things when I played around with it the other day.” I have the good grace to blush. “I mean I was just testing it, Pen. Kinda cursed into it. Made me laugh, because I have this high screechy voice. And then last night, I erased what I’d done to get the recorder ready for tonight. But I was in like a fog, so I don’t remember exactly what I did after that.”
The chilling words from the tape recorder reverberate through my psyche with all the force and destruction of a ricocheting bullet off the sides of my skull.
“Hi Pen. You don’t know me, yet, but I sure as hell know you. You’re not very good at this therapy stuff are you? You know how I can tell? ‘Cos you blink a lot, like you’re searching for answers. Tells me you don’t know what you’re doin’. Which, when you think about it, is really good news for me.
What is a pastoral counselor, anyway? Therapy backed by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost? The Big Three, huh? Hmm . . . Well, you’ll need more than them to beat me, lady. Which, when you think about it, is very bad news for you. Although, I’ll buy you a vowel here. I don’t have your religious clout. I hope that makes you feel better and gets the ol’ confidence thing goin’. At least when you get into trouble, you can pray your way out of it. And let’s face it, Pen, you’ll need a prayer or two, or maybe even a hundred to get through me. I don’t fuck around, lady. And I always win. ALWAYS.
By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll be wishing you’d taken a climb up another mountain. Like in Switzerland or something. Dressed like your name. In trouble with Mother Superior ‘cos you sing too much. So she sends you off to be a governess for some rich, handsome pervert dude who has like fifty children. And you all happily sing yourselves to death falling out of trees.
This is the only warning you’re gonna get, lady. From here on out, you’d best have your knee pads shined to perfection, and your hands joined together in holy matrimony.
In God you better trust!”
Omg! where did this come from? I desperately try to remember what I’d done after I erased the tape the night before. But there’s a head full of air attached to my neck.
“Liz?” . . . “Liz, can you hear me?”
Sure I can hear you, Pen. But the fog is coming, so you better talk fast. Aw, too late, everlastingly too late. Pen’s face begins to lose symmetry as the smoky veil drops over my eyes first, then wraps me up in a suffocating embrace like a damn mummy.
Oh God. How could things possibly get any worse for me? Haven’t I already been through hell? And, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't hell basically as low as you can go? Well, what a crock of poo if it isn't.
Hark, I doth hear a voice in the vast wilderness of fogdom. A gentle voice, methinks. As soft as the feathery down of a virgin dove’s breast. I must awake. “Aye.”
Ah, the womanly voice doth stumble. No matter. “Aye, milady.”
A throat clears. “To whom am I speaking?”
“Thou art addressing the Lady Charlotte, milady. Dost thou jest?”
“N-no. Forgive me Lady Charlotte, I’ve had a bit of a shock.”
“Thou art forgiven. Now prithee, why hast thou called me from yon? And speak quickly, milady. My wit, though ‘tis lively and sharp as King Arthur’s sword, be taxing. I needs must have rest. ‘Tis a journey long I have made.”
“Of course, Lady Charlotte. I quite understand, and I'll try to make this very short. First, can you tell me where you come from?”
“Of course, Dr. Penguin. I come from Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Care to join me? We’ll go digging for a bigass pot of goldshit!”