Author : M. J. Hall

We wait.

We the shadow-women, the marginalized, the dispossessed. We wait, for our time of power is near.

Long ago, the elite decided that natural means of reproduction were far too messy for those of great wealth and status. As the clone banks churned out replacement generations, the ruling class forswore the pleasures of the flesh for more aesthetic pursuits. The conservative leaders built their clean cities on the surface, in the light; while we, the primitive and carnal, we were banished to the secret places underground.

But gradually, creeping through the shadows into the undertunnels of the city, the influential found us, the pleasure-women. We had hidden, we members of the oldest profession, when the Conserves turned society against us. But having turned away from prurient pursuits, it was those same Conserves who then sought us out, found our warrens in the tunnels, richly draped in silks and velvets. Our sensual dens, they found.

From us they learned passion and ecstasy anew, all the gratification that flesh can give, all the desire that had been purged from the sterile Aboveworld. The libidinous, lascivious, satyric realm was ours to teach, and they learned.

And we learned, too . . . .

We learned their secrets. All their whispers in the night, their murmurs in sleep. We listened . . . .

The leaders, the rulers in this capitol city, whispering to us in the darkest hours underground. A quiet susurration, barely heard above the rustle of silk, all the humdrum details of a bureaucrat’s routine. They murmured to us, we the illiterate and disenfranchised. What would we know of leadership, of intergalactic policy? How could we understand all the secrets of empire and polity?

They came in our beds. They spilled in our sheets, whispered in our ears, all the secrets of this capitol planet. We learned . . . .

And then we met. We, the shadow-women, relegated to the dark places underground. We met, and spoke, and shared our knowledge.

Our mothers—mothers brewed an herbal infusion, a sweet tea, to ease the clientele into sleep. But somewhere along the generations of pleasure-women, we realized another quality of the tea. Words whispered as the client sleeps become impulses, yearnings, desires upon waking.

We learned. We spoke. And now, we move . . . .

There are many of us, secreted away in the gloom. But to each one of us, so many of you come for comfort, for pleasure, for easement. So many, many elites in a city of rulers, on this imperial planet that rules the entire ‘verse. So many, many ears into which we whisper suggestions that become urges, inexorable compulsions upon waking.

We, the shadow-women, the pleasure-givers. We meet, we decide, we direct. From the deepest depths, from the shadows, we rule.

A vote? Tomorrow? Yes, but for now, drink. Relax. Sleep. Let me whisper in your ear . . . .

We wait. You snore. We whisper . . . and we wait.


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