Ritualistic Design Phase 02
"I really don't know what it is you are so upset about, Lori. It wasn't like I could just bring it up in polite conversation, you know. What was I supposed to say?"
"Well, mother, you could have said at least something to me. Maybe, 'Hey, Wes, I wanted to discuss the idea with you of my new lifestyle.' Something other than having me kidnapped and forced into a new lifestyle with you."
"Now, Lori, you know I wanted to tell you but this was the easiest way."
"The easiest? That makes my head hurt. No, mom, the easiest thing would have been for you to have said something to me about it."
"Are you going to get dressed? I want you to meet someone very special to me. She will be here in an hour and I want you presentable." She ran a hand over a golden curl and tucked it behind Lori's shoulder.
"Who is it? Are they important?"
"Yes she is important and she is taking an entire day out of her schedule to fly in and meet my daughter."
"Are you forgetting I was born a male?"
"It doesn't matter what you were born like. You are my Lori now. You left Wes behind a week ago."
"Mother, I AM Wes," he stated, darting in front of his mother's path. "Could we at least call each other by our real names in private?"
"Lori IS your real name. Now go back to your room and get ready."
"What room, mom? I don't have a room, I have a prison cell!"
Sharon sighed heavily and shooed her child from the room. "Please just go and get ready. I don't want to disappoint Hillary." The door shut in Wes's face with a thud and a click. He turned on his heel and headed off down the hallway.
Since coming here over a week ago Wes had no more idea what was going on around him than he did on his first night here. In three days time he was transformed from a man to a transsexual. There had been talks of completing the job but then there were also protests of keeping him for breeding purposes. All in all, Wes was damned confused and felt completely out of the loop. Since his transformation, the only friend he had was the girl who had ushered him into this lifestyle, Maryam, and his newfound friend from his initiation, Samantha. The rest of the girls here were relatively standoffish.
Now he was expected to get ready for his mother's friend who was flying in from somewhere to meet him. Wes wound through the halls and back to his room. Maryam was sitting on his cot and smiling at him coyly. "So did she tell you that we have a guest coming?"
Wes sighed and sat beside her. "Yea. She mentioned it."
"Aren't you excited?"
"No. Who's coming, anyway?"
"If she didn't tell you I am going to leave it as a surprise." Maryam giggled and handed Wes the package his mother had sent to him before his initiation. "You should get dressed. Do you want me to help?"
Wes sat and stared at her blankly. Maryam slid from the bed and unfastened the buttons on the top of Wes's blouse and pulled it up over his head. He went through the motions. Out of the blouse, out of the pants, into the new blouse, into the new skirt and then into pantyhose. That had to be his least favorite part to do, mostly because he had to do it himself. Maryam found a pair of simple black pumps and helped him slip into his jacket. She clucked at him softly. "You know you would be much prettier if you would do something with your hair and your makeup."
"Come with me to my room and I will help you. You don't have anything down here." She grabbed his hand and tugged until he followed her. She led him up a couple of flights of stairs, up through a lobby area and into an elevator.
"So you mean to tell me that you don't live down in the dungeon with everyone else?"
"Honey, no one lives down there, really. There are some classes down there, a few rituals and things, but no living quarters. I'm seriously wondering why the High Priestess keeps you down there. Maybe she is renovating one of the bigger rooms or something."
The elevator lurched to a stop and the doors opened. Wes was reminded of a soap opera with the lush red and gold carpeting. Maryam unlocked the door directly to the left of the elevator and ushered Wes inside.
The apartment was lush and very much said "Maryam". The curtains were thick red velvet with gold ties. The couches and chairs were brocade with clawed mahogany arms and feet. She smiled as she perched on the edge of the matching coffee table. "It looks like something out of Interview with the Vampire, doesn't it?" She was smiling another of her impish grins and swinging one foot in the air, very much impressed with her décor. Wes smiled at her.
"It's very much you."
She ran the toe of her designer shoe over the gold pattern in the area rug protecting the polished wood floor from the furniture. "You know, if you ask the High Priestess she might let you move in here with me and Charlotte. Charlotte and I use the same bedroom so we have one open. I am not sure anyone has really thought about it." She stood with a sigh and gestured for Wes to follow her. The bathroom was huge. Two makeup mirrors, much like Wes would imagine models using, were against one wall. Maryam seated Wes at one of the mirrors and pulled out a variety of makeup. "You should be glad, really, that you're a blonde now. I have makeup that will work really well for you."
Without wasting another word, Maryam set to work. Each step she made she detailed so Wes could try and follow along. After what seemed like a near eternity Wes was curled, painted and powdered. Maryam stood back from the mirror so Wes could ogle her handywork. He had to admit, she had done a relatively good job. He looked pretty. She then shooed him to the side so she could touch up her own makeup and give Wes a few pointers. As she worked, she chattered at him about their upcoming visitor and the talk said person was to be doing at the local college. Wes admired her enthusiasm.
The phone rang, interrupting their conversation.
"Lori, darling, would you mind getting that for me?"
"Um, sure," he stammered as he wandered out to the front room and plucked the handset from the receiver. "Hello?"
"Hello? Who is this?" The background noise made it hard to understand what was being said.
"I'm sorry. This is W- Lori. I'm answering for Maryam. She's touching up her makeup."
"Ah. Okay, Lori. This is Charlotte. Can you tell Maryam I will meet her at the college after I get off from work? I'm running late here today." Charlotte was nearly shouting into the receiver but it was still damned hard to hear her. Wes plugged his opposite ear and listened harder.
"Yes, I will tell her. Will you be late?"
"No, but I will just have time to get there from work. I won't have time to come home and change first. I figured it would be really busy so I brought my suit just in case. Anyway, thanks for taking the message, Lori. I'll see you and Maryam at the college."
Wes didn't have a chance to say goodbye before he heard Charlotte's end go silent. He placed the vintage receiver back on the cradle and shuffled back to the bathroom.
"It was Charlotte. She said she would meet you at the college since she was going to be working late."
"I knew she was going to have that problem. Too many people make special requests, especially when they find out it's close to the end of your shift." She stood from the bench and smoothed out her skirt. "Are you ready? We should head down to the meeting hall. I am sure the High Priestess will be giving a speech soon and then you can ride with me to the college."
Wes nodded in agreement. Maryam snatched her jacket from the hook by the door and checked her purse for her keys. She locked the door behind her and flagged the elevator.
Maryam seemed slightly rushed to get to the meeting hall as though they were late. She opened the double doors to the meeting hall and they both filtered into the crowd. Sharon was standing on a small stage area behind a podium. She flipped through a couple of pages while the women in the room milled and chatted socially. When Sharon cleared her throat, however, the women stopped chatting and turned their attention to the stage.
"Good morning, ladies! It is wonderful to see all of you out and about today. Now, as you all know, we are headed to the university today to hear the motivational speech given by one of the most influential women of our time. She has agreed to take time out of her schedule after her speaking engagement to meet with us here at the commune and answer our questions. While I would invite all of you to attend the speech, I understand many of you have business to attend to. This will not be held against you. However, I do expect each and every one of you to attend tonight's seminar. I am sure, though, that none of you would miss it.
"The travel arrangements have been made for the busses to pick us up. I do know that many of you have other plans and must travel yourselves. If this is the case, please travel safely. We will see you at the conference. You are dismissed."
Sharon exited the stage.
Maryam pulled Wes's arm. "Come on, we have to head out before the busses are loaded, otherwise we won't get good seats. My car is parked around the back." She looked around to make sure no one was paying attention before heading up the opposite side of the stage Sharon had exited and out a steel door. They immerged from the building into an alleyway. Maryam hurried up the alley and clicked the button on her keys. Wes heard an engine start. The lights on a black Gallant flicked on and Maryam skipped to the driver's side door and hopped inside. Wes smirked and climbed into the seat beside her as she drove off.
The college auditorium was nearly half full by the time Maryam and Wes arrived. They selected seats as close to the front as they could get and watched for members of their coven to arrive while chatting about hair and makeup and clothing. Maryam seemed to be particularly interested in poking fun at the various college students who couldn't manage to get out of their pajamas to attend. Her favorite victims were those with unkempt hair and no makeup or, alternatively, the girls who looked like what she called Gucci Whores. Wes was overall delighted with her snarkiness and while he didn't always participate, he did enjoy her commentary. It helped to pass the time rather admirably.
The auditorium filled to capacity and even with the folding chairs lined in row upon row before the front row of seats there were people standing in the aisles and standing along the sides and back of the room. He was definitely curious who could have possibly been speaking to attract this many people. While there were men in attendance, Wes was sure there were more women in attendance.
"Greetings, everyone! It's a pleasure to see so many students in attendance for today's lecture. Since the event was opened to the outside public, we are hosting many from the community as well. I would like to thank everyone for their attendance today. We have a very special guest, as you all know, and I won't delay her any further as she is a very busy woman. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!"
The auditorium burst into applause as the former first lady walked confidently to the podium. She smiled and nodded to those in attendance for the first moment or so and then began her thanks to quiet the attendees.
She began her presentation, but Wes barely heard her speak. This couldn't possibly be the woman his mother had said was coming to visit and meet him. His mother had always been a straight laced, staunch conservative, upright model citizen. Now he was supposed to believe she was a right wing liberal Pagan priestess? He numbly turned his attention back to the stage.
Maryam was rattling off to the head about the different points Ms. Clinton had made in her speech, but Wes wasn't really paying attention. He ambled along behind as they made their way back to the car and wished he had never worn pumps. They were damned uncomfortable for any extended walking. He suddenly admired women a bit more, especially Maryam whom he had never seen wearing anything other than pumps.
She unlocked the door and looked up at Wes with a wide smile plastered across her face. Her smile melted and she quirked her head. "Honey, are you alright?"
Wes shook his head and said nothing as he climbed into the car. Maryam closed and locked the doors and touched his arm gently. "It's a bit too much, isn't it?"
"A bit? A BIT too much? Damn it, a few weeks ago I thought my mother was the typical American woman. She was moral and just and proper. Now I come into this and find out my mother is nothing like I knew her to be. NOTHING." Wes balled his fists and sunk them into his lap before he hit something. Maryam patted his shoulder soothingly.
"She figured this was the best way to do it. You know, the whole "when in Rome, do as the Romans" thing? She thought it would be best for you to just be inundated with all the new knowledge all at once and then you could sort through it at your leisure. Believe me, it is a lot to learn about someone, especially your mother. Having come through it myself, although not in your capacity, I have to say it took Charlotte and I a long time to reconcile our differences. I am sure it will be a LOT less time for you and your mother, Lori. Really, it's best to just accept it. It's not like you can really have it all undone. And, really, if you could... would you?"
Wes thought about it for a few moments. He could go back to his life with his friends and his family and everything that was familiar and comfortable or he could be here knowing what he knew, seeing what he saw and trying to come to terms with an entirely new life that had been forced on him. He waffled. It really had been a fantasy of his to be a woman, even for a few days. He had always been fascinated with the freedom so many people exhibited and now it was sitting at his doorstep. He had a good friend in Maryam and his mother was doing what she thought was best for him. His indecision was still too great and he shrugged and sighed. "I don't know."
Maryam sighed as well and nodded sadly. "I know this is a lot to take in all at once, Wes—Lori. But I am here to help you. You're alright." The engine purred as she turned the key in the ignition. "Let's go back so you can meet Hillary. She's definitely an interesting woman. I really think you'll like her and come to accept her in time."
When Wes entered Sharon's office, he was shocked to see her leaned across the arm of her reclining chair, hand in hand, with Hillary. He cleared his throat and scuffed his shoe against the floor.
"Oh, Lori! I was hoping you would make it back in time!" She stood and maneuvered Wes into the chair she had been sitting in and sat beside Hillary on the loveseat. They were sitting too close to one another. Wes looked away. Sharon continued, "Hillary, this is my daughter Lori. This is who I wanted you to meet when I spoke with you last."
Wes could feel Hillary's eyes as she assessed him. "He turned out rather well, didn't he? I am impressed."
Sharon suppressed a squeal of delight. "I think she turned out just lovely, don't you?"
"Indeed." Hillary ducked her head to catch Wes's eye. "What do you think?"
"Honestly? I don't know what to think. My mother, whom I thought was normal, turns out to be some Pagan priestess in a cult of women. Then she has me kidnapped, drugged, raped and given a sex change. I mean, seriously, what would YOU think if this had happened?"
Hillary nodded somberly. "Yes, I see what you mean. That was all very extreme for you, I'm sure. Has she told you about her involvement with me?"
"I didn't know you were involved in this until this morning."
"So she didn't tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"Well, this..." Hillary leaned in and kissed Sharon passionately. Wes blinked hard.
"Lori, love, we've been lovers for awhile now. Ever since I met her several years ago when she returned to her former college for a speech during her husband's campaign. I chanced to talk to her and we got along very well. Since then I have been working under the covers, so to speak, with Hillary to bring about the changes she wanted to have done while Bill was in office."
"So this group is more than just a Pagan coven?"
"Yes, it is. We are also a political activist group."
Wes rubbed his forehead wearily. "And you want me to be part of this?"
"Well, yes. We really had hoped for that, especially given your prior profession."
Hillary interjected, "Wes, I know this is a lot for you to handle all at once. I had figured you would have been guided into this a bit more than you were. But let me ask you something. If you could undo all of this and go back to the way you were, would you?"
Wes shook his head. "I don't know. On one hand, I really like the way things are. On the other hand, I don't. I would really like to be kept in the loop. It would have been nice to have had some time to accept one thing before another was thrust upon me. It's not like I chose this."
"The coven will protect you, give you a new job within the commune and you are more than welcome to come and go as you please just as long as you don't give out any information about the group or any of the goings-on here. If you did, there would be a lot of women out of jobs, homes, affordable health care and community that they so desperately need."
"I don't want them out of any of those things. I just need some time to wrap my brain around it all. That's all. It was too much, too fast."
"I understand completely."
"I do have some questions, though. How is this place running? What protects it from the outside world? Why is everything here so different? What all do you do here? Who funds this? How can they have so many things at finger's reach? Is the government involved?"
Hillary smiled and patted Wes's hand. "I fund this project. As for all of your other questions, those will all be revealed in time. Welcome to the Willendorf Project, Lori. It's good to have you on board."
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