Thomas Jackson heard the crash of the collective shopping items, he heard the shriek of his wife Theodora, and turned from locking his Toyota to where his wife was standing in the doorway, unmoving.
The two had just come back from braving the unnervingly slow crowds to squeeze in their Christmas shopping and had found everything they needed to with relative ease.
“What is it?”
Yet Tom saw as soon as he peered over the top of her, something their height difference allowed for.
Standing just a few metres from their front door, insidetheir own house was a completely nude woman; back straight, eyes blank forward, hands behind her back.
“The fuck?” Was all Tom could say.
“Who are you?” Theo was raising her voice, her dark brown eyes now seemingly black, filled with fury or confusion or both.
“How’d you get in here, huh?”
“She could be mentally ill, Theo.” Was all Tom could say.
Theo couldn’t hear him; she was talking over him, right in the face of this woman.
“Is this a prank? Whom do you work for?”
Tom had moved from the open doorway, and then thought of any spectators from outside that might hear – and shuffled the shopping in and gently closed the door.
“Do you not speak, huh?”
Theo’s Italian heritage was starting to show. She had that way about her, Tom thought, where she could speak like her father, the most intimidating man Tom had ever met.
The nude woman did not flinch despite the ferocity of Theo’s tone. She simply stood, unblinking, eyes forward, posture perfect, hands behind her back.
Her eyes were grey..or blue…or green, Tom couldn’t tell, they seemed to shift as he moved slowly towards her.
She was slender, the slightest trace of her rib cage poking through her skin. Her skin itself was pale, with the ghost of colour, a light honeyed colour, ever so faint.
Against her pale skin, the dark patch of pubic hair that marked her landing strip was striking, drawing Tom’s eyes down to it. He instantly looked away, this time to Theo, who was nearing the silent woman.
Theo was reaching out with her hand, towards the collar that was around the woman’s neck. The woman never looked down at Theo, her eyes didn’t register a single thought.
“What in the fuck…?” Was all Tom could say.
Attached to the thick leathery collar was a silver metal circle pendant, with writing etched into it – unreadable from where Tom was standing.
Theo slowly reached her hand out towards the metal pendant, her mind ready for a potential violent outburst in which it would have to react.
Yet she grabbed a hold of it and was able to lean in to read the writing, all the while the nude woman kept her eyes forward and her breathing relaxed.
“My name is Snow. I am a gift to you both. Please take good care of me.”
Theo read the words aloud slowly, confused, bewildered.
A pause, then:
“This is a fucking joke, right? It’s gotta be. Who would give us this..this…woman as a gift.”
Theo released her grip from the pendant, letting it fall back against the nude woman’s neck.
“We need to get her to the police, Theo.”
Theo was looking into the eyes of the woman so named Snow. The woman was looking away from Theo. BeyondTheo.
“Can you talk?”
Keeping her eyes focused on a point beyond Theo, the woman spoke in a voice barely audible. It was soft and graceful to the ear.
“Well, why didn’t you lead with that?”
Theo’s anger went into overdrive again, prompting Thomas to touch her gently on the arm. She shot him a glance with a flash of anger but deep down she knew what he was saying – lower your voice, this woman needs our help.
“Snow doesn’t speak unless directly spoken to, as instructed.”
“Instructed by whom?” Thomas beat Theo to this one. “Somebody sent you then?”
“He sent Snow. He instructed Snow. He said that you needed help, more now than ever.”
If you don’t want to go, don’t fucking go but you better start packing while I’m gone.
Theo was looking at Thomas now. “He? Do you have any idea-“
“He is the watcher of all. He sees all truths.”
The woman named snow had her eyes forward, focused and calm. There was no wide-eyed wonder there, no cult-like fanaticism, and just blank eyes telling facts.
“Maybe you ought to go to the police after all…” Theodora said. “I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine and have a bath.”
Thomas nodded, looked to the woman and sighed.
He went to grab his overcoat.
The woman named Snow stood in the reception area of the downtown precinct, wrapped up in Thomas’s overcoat. Her eyes were glassy, focusing on a distant point, somewhere behind the officer at the desk in front of them.
“And where did you say you found her?” Said the middle-aged officer with a five o’ clock shadow, his eyes blue and tired and sinking into his skull.
“My wife and I found her nude in our house and-“
“Any sign of forced entry?”
“I’m not sure…I came right here when she started mentioning a watcher of truths or something…”
The tired officer regarded the woman with his weary eyes then looked back to Thomas and let out a sigh.
“Alright, well we can take her in, call up the local hospitals, and see if we can find anything. You get home to your wife. It’s cold outside.”
The man was coming out from behind the desk and into the open area. He gently took the woman named Snow by the arm and escorted her down the corridor to the left and out of view.
The woman didn’t look back.
If you don’t want to go, don’t fucking go but you better start packing while I’m gone.
Theodora laid back in her bath, listening to the sound of rain falling from her phone resting on its charger on the bathroom sink.
The argument she had with Thomas on the drive home from shopping played over and over again in her mind.
It all started when Thomas brought up that he didn’t want to go to Theo’s family Christmas, for he felt uncomfortable at how her brothers spoke to him, and sometimes lack thereof.
She didn’t know why she had gotten so mad and yelled so fiercely. They certainly had been arguing more so than usual, the product of a looming Christmas perhaps, but was that really an excuse?
Sighing, Theo emptied her wine glass and stepped out of the bath.
“A towel, ma’am?”
Theo jumped, her instinctive reaction kicking in to cover her exposed body, and stumbled back to rest against the wall behind her.
The woman named Snow stood with her arms outstretched holding a towel, still completely nude.
Theo regarded her a moment with shock, then realisation kicked in.
“Ugh, Tom hasn’t left yet? Really? All this time and he hasn’t…?”
Theo grabbed the towel, wrapped it around her and went to open the door and exude all her fury on the man that, for some reason, had been loafing around.
Theo stopped, a thought emerging ahead of all the others – what if the woman had done something to Tom and all this time was luring her into a false sense of –
The woman named Snow rushed Theo, slamming her against the wall, holding her tightly in place. Theo struggled against the sharp pain squeezing against her wrists, her eyes darting around for something anything, to fight off the woman.
Theo tried leaning across to reach the empty wine bottle resting on the edges around the bath but the woman grabbed her by the arm, spinning her around so that Theo was facing the wall, her ass exposed now, and held her there.
“I have an idea what you want, Ma’am.”
“Who are you? What have you done with Tom?”
Theo looked to her side to try and catch a glimpse of the woman, just in time to see her reach to the bathroom railing and slide off Tom’s black belt that had been sitting there for months since the last party they went to in June.
Theo heard the leather slink off the railing and braced herself, bowing her head against the wall.
She didn’t realise she was panting until the first strike against her ass, the force of the act causing her body to jolt against the wall.
Her head throbbed with pain, her ass feeling like it was stung by a wasp – childhood memories came washing over, absurd and forgotten, of being bitten by a wasp as a six year old.
“Confess how you feel..”
“You don’t know shit about ho-“
Another crack, another outburst of blinding pain. Her skin felt like it was on fire.
Theo went to move back, to knock the woman off guard but the woman held her in place, her force bizarre and disquieting.
Theo went to scream, it came wailing out of her lungs.
The woman struck her again; the scream warbled and fizzled to a low strangled whimper.
“Confess how you feel.”
“Listen, you little psycho bitch, you don’t know the first-“
The woman struck her again, this time across her cunt. Excruciating pain shot through her lips, zigzagging across her ribcage and to her skull.
Theo tried to catch her breath, to load another insult ready to fire.
The woman struck her again – and again – and again, each time repeating the same words to her – confess.
Each times the same words, each time the biting pain, all consuming, unyielding.
“Stop!” Theo screamed in an outburst, throwing her arms out with all her might to throw the woman off. The woman kept coming, raising the belt to strike upwards across Theo’s body – her back, left to right then right to left, down across her legs, each side of her ass, then back under to her cunt.
“Stop…” came Theo’s wavering voice.
Another stab of searing pain hit Theo right across her lips, this time knocking her off balance and face first into the wall. Hitting her head felt like someone had taken a concrete slab to her temples.
Every inch of her body was searing with red-hot intensity, biting and pinching and on fire.
“I’m not happy!”
Theo turned her head upwards to look at the woman, who held her hand in the air mid swing.
With that admission, everything began to crumple.
Theo fell to her knees, embracing the stiff coldness of the bathroom tiles and sinking into the pain coursing across her entire body.
The tears came fast then, building in her eyes, blinking away down her cheeks.
“I haven’t been for a while I don’t really know why there just doesn’t seem to be any…any…”
Words ran freely from her lips but one caught in her throat, one she couldn’t get out.
The woman named Snow dropped the belt. It clattered to the floor.
She knelt down besides Theo, eventually sitting down on her folded legs.
The woman named Snow stretched out her arms and Theo crumbled into them, sobbing fiercely, her entire body heaving with every mighty sob.
In that moment, Theo felt guilty. It swirled in her gut at full steam.
Yet she felt child like, clinging to this stranger, her torturer, and their breasts brushing up against one another.
n that moment, her body still taking its relief from her latest choking sob, Theo looked into the eyes of this stranger. What met her was calming green eyes, relaxed, warm, understanding – accepting.
Something within Theo drove her to this woman’s lips.
It was an aggressive kiss – forceful and hungry – yet the woman met it with full force, finding a tuft of hair behind Theo’s hair and pulling sharply.
Theo panted, a tangled moan escaping, and allowed her to be led gently down to the cool bathroom tiles.
The woman fed upon every inch of Theo’s body.
Thomas stepped through the door and kicked off his shoes.
Now that the weirdness was sorted, it was time to get back to the regular weirdness that was dealing with Christmas – first step – wrapping presents.
When he rounded the corner into the living room, what he saw froze him still.
Theo was curled up, on her back, on their couch, completely naked. Her eyes were fixed above, her expression calm.
Such a sight wasn’t normally this strange – Theo was very upfront about her nudity, as was her family, but it was her calm expression that made him pause. It was something about this image, now, after everything, after their fight.
Theo regarded him coolly. “There you are. Where did you go? And why did you tell me you weren’t sending Snow to the police yet after all?”
The words slashed at his gut. He swallowed loudly.
“Don’t play dumb, silly. I’m not mad. She’s upstairs having a nap. I…we….look, I have an idea.”
Thomas couldn’t find the words, he suddenly felt cold, very cold.
“Theo, are you alright?”
“Better than ever. Snow is a gift, Tom..”
Something didn’t feel right.
And I finally figured out what we need to do to solve everything”Snow is a gift, Tom.”
Theo’s face lit up in a smile.
“We need to fuck.”