Chapter One

There was no one in those shoes.

Dan Shelby felt his sanity slipping farther and farther away as his fingers fumbled with the bloody rope that bound his wife's ankles. He could see the fibers tearing into her lovely flesh as he strained to tighten the knot even tighter, and he couldn't stop. They were his fingers, weren't they? Then, why couldn't he stop?

His wife, Carol, squirmed under his touch, a current of fear rippling across the surface of her pale skin. She was only in her bra and panties now. When had that happened? Dan looked from the bed to the desk by the door. It was the only other stick of furniture in this fleabag motel room. There, draped across the chair, was the tattered remains of her sun dress. When had he done that? He was struggling to remember how they had gotten to this point, when he caught movement from the corner of his eye.

The shoes were in the corner now, by the door.

He jerked his eyes away and instead fixed his gaze on his hands, willing them to relax, to ease the tension in the knot he was forming, to give the love of his life some relief. Her back arched in pain as the ropes cut deeper, a mewl of anguish bubbling in her throat. Tears slipped from his eyes and flooded his cheeks.

"The head of the woman is man."

Dan slammed his eyes shut at the sound of the voice. He knew that if he looked, there would be no one there, and that would mean that the voice was in his head, and that he was insane. It would also mean that he had done all this himself.

The voice continued. "Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."

"No!" The word flared in Dan's mind, but no sound passed his lips.

He had never tried to control Carol like this; he had never wanted to. How could these thoughts be in his head, and why would his ears tingle with the sound of that voice if they were?

His knot complete, Dan sat back in the bed. He could almost feel a hand on his chest, pushing him back against the headboard. He stole a glance in the corner; the shoes weren't there now. He resisted the urge to look for them.

Carol lay before him on her stomach, her hands behind her, wrists and ankles bound. The vicious knots he had tied were seeping with her blood ... and his blood. He looked down at his hands, the fingernails bent back and broken. Drying blood caked the tips. He looked at Carol's trembling form and ran his eyes along her porcelain skin. Except for the savage wounds to her wrists and ankles, her skin, as always, was flawless. Even as his damaged hands reached out and began to turn her over, he willed his eyes to close, to not see what he had done to the front of her.

This time his eyes stayed open.

"This world grows weak."

Dan looked up in the direction of the voice. They were there now, in the doorway to the bathroom, the dim light from over the sink casting them in a dark silhouette. They were expensive, leather, perhaps Italian.

He couldn't look too long as his eyes were being made to look upon his wife, at the bloody ruin her chest and abdomen had become from the brutal claw marks that criss-crossed her flesh. He knew that they were his claws, and the tears came again.

"Everyone is the same. We all have rights. No one is better than anyone else." The snide comments didn't come from the bathroom doorway, which meant that the shoes weren't there anymore.

"But we know the truth. It is a myth, a fairy tale that the weak tell themselves so that they can sleep through the night, while every day there are more being born of the New Waves."

Dan reached out a hand to stroke his wife's cheek, her face the only part of her not covered in her own blood. His hand never made it to her cheek.

"The servant is never equal to the master," said the voice as Dan felt his arm raising up over his head, "and domination would be so much easier if the servant would simply learn to obey."

Dan's arm came down like a sledgehammer, a white-knuckled fist at the end, and smashed into his wife's delicate button nose, crunching bone and spraying blood across her beautiful face.

Dan watched this through tear-streaked eyes, as if he were floating above it all, unbelieving and horrified.

Carol went rigid, her mouth gaping, blood dripping in, but no scream escaped her. As the blood reached her throat she gagged, spitting red vapor into the air. She turned on her side, spasming as she retched the blood out of her throat. Dan's hands released her and she rolled onto her stomach, her face buried in the white sheets. Red stains blossomed on the bed linens.

This whole time Dan had seen it, but he hadn't connected the dots.

Carol was being controlled, too.

Dan was so wrapped up in what he was doing to her that he failed to see what she was doing. She hadn't fought him ... not while he was ripping her dress from her, not when he had clawed her to ribbons, not when he tied her hands and feet.

She had never screamed.

No person could do that. No person could control that reflex. This entire time, while he had played the sadist, she had played the submissive. Dan grabbed onto that knowledge like a life preserver. They couldn't both be insane, could they?

The knife fell out of the empty air and landed in his lap.

It was a butterfly knife, and Dan flipped it open with the ease of a ninja. Anguish took deep root in his face as he gripped the steel handles, the gleaming blade reflecting the torment in his eyes. As his hands began to move, he willed himself away. He could not be here for this.

"But where man has tried to level the playing field, God has asserted His dominance. He has created newer, stronger disciples."

Dan could sense the shoes at the side of the bed, the voice booming in his head, and while he couldn't grasp their connection, he knew that the shoes were real.

"Your wife is one of those who would have dominated men," said the voice, as Dan's empty hand grabbed a knot of her golden blond hair and dragged her roughly onto his lap. "She would have realized that soon enough. You would have been her first submissive."

Dan's hand parted the hair covering the back of her neck as a cloud of dread descended on him. He felt the twisted bump beneath his fingers and he knew what the voice would make these hands do. The mystery was starting to unravel.

It was an oddity Carol had carried since she was a little girl. Her mother had noticed it one day as she was blow drying her daughter's hair a small bump at the base of her skull. Carol had told him tales of doctors and tests and her parents wringing their hands over the results. After months of poking and probing, the tests had revealed that a gland was forming. It was tied into her vascular system and seemed to be pumping some kind of fluid into her brain.

The doctors were baffled and her parents distraught. Removing it was an option, but the risk was severe. Their daughter seemed completely healthy, so it was decided to monitor the growth and Carol was sent home with a lump on her neck.

In the following months, her mother watched that lump like a hawk and would commemorate any increase in size with a call to the doctor. This went on until she started her adolescence, and the gland stopped growing. A few years later, they stopped going to the hospital.

The gland was never more than an annoyance, and sometimes an embarrassment for Carol. She grew her hair long and never wore it otherwise. But in adolescence, you fought for similarity, and it would be a constant reminder that she was different.

Carol had researched it herself, scouring the internet for similar cases of gland formation. Theories and speculation covered the spectrum. Some evidence suggested that it was a vestigial organ that only showed up in rare occurrences and had no purpose or function in the evolved human. The other end of the array posited that the gland was a result of the constant bombardment of electromagnetic waves, and their effect was directing our evolution. So, either she was a throwback to a more primitive stage of mankind, or she was a vanguard taking the next steps into a new frontier. She chose not to flip that coin.

Dan had allowed himself to believe that the mystery had made her stronger. It was her strength that he had fallen in love with in the beginning. He looked down at the strong-willed woman laying tied and prostrate in his lap and he watched the blade in his hand pierce the flesh of her neck like a scalpel. He traced the length of the gland in her neck as her blood again covered his hands, pouring down and soaking into his jeans. Her body quivered beneath his touch, but his hand never hesitated. He couldn't see clearly through his tears, but something could. Something guided his hand, cutting away the flesh and exposing the pulsing organ.

"Dominance requires the energy of the Waves," said the voice, as Dan dropped the knife on the bed, his hand coming back to hover over his wife's neck, "and energy, unlike the Almighty, is finite."

Dan could hear the shoes shuffle on the carpet, as if they were coming closer to witness this last part.

"I am afraid that there is simply not enough to go around."

To punctuate this statement, Dan's hand grasped the gland in a firm grip and pulled it free, ripping blood vessels and sinewy flesh, until the organ was lifeless tissue in his hand. He felt it pulse within his fingers once, fluid leaking down his wrist and onto Carol's back. By the time it had stopped moving in his hand, so had his wife.

Dan's hand relaxed, and the source of his wife's strength and uniqueness plopped onto the bedsheets. It lay there like a shriveled worm, so seemingly unimportant. He saw the shoes in his periphery as they shuffled toward the door, but he paid them no attention. His hand reached for the knife again, and this time it was his doing. He brought the blade, now smeared with his wife's blood, to his face and tried to see the eyes of the man he had become. The reflection was a blur, a distorted image that melted in drops of red. Fitting. He felt the breeze on his face as the motel room door opened, then closed.

He was alone.

He didn't know if he would feel the knife as it sliced through the arteries in his neck ... and he didn't care.


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