A Lonely Impulse
When Hatchet-face asked her what she thought had triggered it, Carrie thought of blaming the chilli. It was the way Viola made it - heavy and full of yoghurt and with a choice of brown basmati or some sort of whole-grain crackers; it was very nice, but it took a lot of washing down. And you felt weighed down-by it; maybe that had something to do with it.
At least no one said very much over dinner: Veronica and Spike had probably intended to walk out all along, at least once they realized Carrie was there, but there are separatist ethics on the one hand, and there is having to walk home and then get your own supper on the other.
'Well,' said Viola, 'I think we've got at least some common ground. I mean, the important thing is that women should be safe.'
'No woman can be safe,' said Spike, summoning sepulchral tones from somewhere inside her shedding mohair sweater.
'Not while there are men on the streets,' said Veronica, her bright bird-like eagerness making it unclear whether she was finishing her lover's sentence or making a ritual response.
'Well,' said Carrie, stretching back into her armchair so that her head rested on the leather jacket she had folded up and put on top of the cushion, 'perhaps unfortunately, imposing a curfew on all males is not, in fact, an option.'
'Of course, you'd side with rapists,' said Spike. 'I don't know why Viola asked you into the discussion.'
'I don't see that Carrie was siding with rapists,' said Viola.
'You wouldn't,' said Veronica. 'After all, you still sleep with them.'
'No I don't; said Viola.
'What they mean,' said Carrie, 'is that you sleep with men. All men are rapists. You sleep with rapists. QED. It's like all their other little formulas. I wear eye makeup, so I'm not a real lesbian. Gay men oppress women by looking at pictures of each other. Paranorms have special powers, so they're elitist and oppress everybody.'
'That's a really simplistic falsification -' Spike started.
'Right,' Carrie continued, 'I forgot, it's all right to be heterosexual or paranormal as long as you don't actually do it. How that differs from the way Christians talk about dykes, I fail to understand.'
'It is typical,' said Veronica, 'that you insist on bringing it down to sexual acts.'
'And,' said Spike, 'that someone who goes around dressed in fascist leather gear will jump to the defence of people who think they're superior.'
'What's any of this got to do with trying to set up an anti-rape patrol?' said Viola.
'Nothing,' said Carrie. 'Sorry. I let them annoy me.'
'We,' said Spike, 'see little point in continuing all this.'
'We just wanted to expose the hypocrisy involved in people like you two even discussing the issue,' said Veronica.
They nodded to each other, got up, and left the room. Spike stumbled on the short staircase down from the living room to the corridor which led to the main stairs, and they slammed the front door as they left.
'I told you that was going to be a waste of time,' said Carrie.
'Well, Carrie,' said Viola, stretching out along her sofa in a cat-like way that Carrie did not particularly enjoy watching - does this ever-so-straight woman not know that she is cute enough to die for? - 'at least we tried.'
'But it's all so pointless; said Carrie. 'I want there to be real discussion about making the streets round here safe for women, not some sort of stage-managed psychodrama in which those two refugees from the Royal Hospital for the Terminally Correct make impossibilist demands that every man in the neighbourhood have their willies padlocked or that there be some sort of Amazon warrior on every street corner.'
They did the washing up, and Carrie finished the Czech lager, then Viola poured herself a brandy, and Carrie a Scotch. And after that, Carrie felt a bit like lying down, and not at all like being sensible, cutting her losses and walking to the other end of the estate.
Trouble was, she knew perfectly well that Viola was uptight. Carrie had never made a pass as such, never would; but Viola knew Carrie was a dyke, and that sort of thus-far-straight woman is usually paranoid enough to misinterpret a perfectly ordinary request to droop across her crazy quilt.
So Carrie let herself drift a bit in her larger chair, as Viola played one of those Vaughan Williams symphonies that always sound as if they have a brass band playing on a village green somewhere in the distance.
'Carrie,' Viola said, after a bit: 'Shall I ring you a cab? Or walk you home? Or would you like to crash where you are?'
'Whichever you'd prefer; Carrie said; toujours butch galante.
'Well,' she said, 'as long as you're content with a chair ...I mean, I know you're quite capable of looking after yourself. But no woman is ever wholly safe, is she?'
Carrie tried to look confidently hard and at the same time sufficiently vulnerable so that Viola would not turf her out like a stray cat that has scrounged once too often.
Viola wandered, not especially steady herself, down the carpeted steps from her living room to the passage and up again to the other half of the flat where her kitchen and bedroom were, clearly not expecting to get rid of Carrie, but not conveying huge pleasure either. But sod it, Carrie thought, she was genuinely a bit wobbly: she didn't usually get that drunk, but everyone slips up once in a while.
Viola came back and slung her a blanket, and Carrie smiled as devastatingly wistful a smile as she could manage; she was not going to humiliate herself by asking her way into Viola's bed, but there was no point in positively ruling out a request from her.
'Goodnight, Carrie,' Viola said firmly, turned out the main light and went to her room. Well, fair enough, though she did not need to be that firm over just a smile, Carrie thought; she pulled her top sweater off, undid the belt of her jeans and stuck her glasses on top of her head, for safe keeping.
There was some mineral water left, and she drank it; it was that Italian sort whose label goes on about your liver. Later on, she remembered to mention this only because they always ask you for very precise details about what you consumed just before, and that was positively the last thing. Viola's housekeeping was not perfect, but there were no radioactive spiders floating in it, or anything; lots of people in Hackney had eaten her chilli, come to that.
Carrie scrunched round in the chair and pulled the blanket round her and, after a few trial positions that ended up with cramp in her knees, managed to find one that would let her get to sleep. And that was it, until the morning.
That started with a vague headache and a sense she might regret opening her eyes; light was streaming in from above - Carrie had always known that there was something obscene about skylights - and somewhere not very far away she could smell coffee.
'I'm up here; Viola shouted, unnecessarily cheerfully.
Now, you, reading this, will know where Carrie's glasses were, but it rarely occurs to you when you wake up in a strange fiat with even a mild hangover that you did even one thing sensible last night. She felt around on the arm of the chair and dangled her hand over the side to the bits of the floor she could reach from where she was folded up; even by stretching her fingers like spider legs, she couldn't find them.
So she opened her eyes. It was not like any hangover she'd ever had; it was a bit like migraines sometimes are. only not quite the same. There were a lot of rods and cones like you see when a microscope reflects your eye; she had never had that before. She could see the room as well as she would normally have been able to without glasses; it just had all this crud in front of it.
'Coffee's ready,' Viola yelled from the kitchen.
Carrie reached for her belt; that may have been why she made her mistake, because she was concentrating on threading it through her jeans and doing it up tight all the way to the kitchen. She couldn't see all that well, but followed the smell of coffee right across the room.
'Careful where you step,' Viola said, I didn't pick up yet.'
Carrie knew this, in an abstract way, but her brain was working differently this morning; she could not quite see what she was picking her way past, but there were obstacles she was avoiding, she sort of knew that - and the floor felt sort of springy - as she tried to work out which hole on her belt would be most expedient the morning after a heavy meal.
'Oh,' Viola said, her kimonoed back to Carrie, 'and mind the steps.'
'What steps?' Carrie said, walking into the kitchen, but Viola was too busy pouring coffee into beakers through some sort of strainer to notice.
Carrie reached past her, avoiding brushing her arm, took a mug and started to sip. It surprised her that she was looking down at the back of Viola's head.
'It can't be very good for your feet?' Carrie said tentatively. 'I mean, I knew you wore heels, but I thought you were taller than me anyway.' She took a step back as Viola turned.
'But I am taller than you, sweetheart,' Viola said and then looked up at her.
'Can you see where I put my glasses?' Carrie asked her.
'They're on top of your head, Carrie; um ...could you go and sit down - you're making me nervous doing that.'
'Doing what?' Carrie said, and turned and headed back to the living room, slipping her glasses forward as she went. The rods and cones and webs and stuff did not go away; they became slightly clearer, and Carrie realized that she had been walking on them. That was what was different about things. She was also a couple of inches above the floor.
She made an effort of will and stepped down from the air on to the carpet; it was hard and unpleasant by comparison. It wasn't like putting your foot into a bath that is too hot or too cold; it was just that she'd already got used to that feeling of its being springy under foot.
Viola was getting quite upset; she started talking in that tone of impatience you use when there is a joke you are not quite in on.
'Carrie.' she said, 'I don't want to be a bore, but just what do you think you are doing?'
'I don't know,' said Carrie. 'I mean, I've never done anything like this before, but it seems really easy. Why don't I...?'
She reached down and took Viola's hand and tried to pull her up to where she was standing. Viola just stumbled forwards, and started to fall down the steps into the hall; Carrie threw her weight into supporting her, and discovered that in the process she had wandered distinctly from the vertical, without exhibiting any tendency to fall to the ground. She let go of Viola and used a sort of backwards swing of her arms and a twist of her, shoulders to push herself back up into the perpendicular. She was standing straight up again, still about a foot and a half off the ground.
She had also managed to drop her coffee, and it had spilled dramatically everywhere.
Viola's left foot had got splashed.
'Do you always go around getting drunk in people's flats,' she said, 'and making a vulgar exhibition of yourself in the morning? It's bad enough when people are sick, but at least you know what you're cleaning up after.'
Carrie was embarrassed; she also had the distinct feeling of having uncovered a hitherto untapped vein of bigotry in someone she quite liked, and respected, and fancied. She turned on her heel: walked across to the chair, picked up and put on the the rest of her clothes, and headed for the door.
'And do at least try to use the stairs,' said Viola, in the sort of cutting tone that can really make you go off someone.
Carrie made her way downstairs, and by concentrating very hard was touching them by the time she reached the bottom.
She went home, and cleaned up and changed, and spent the day snoozing. That evening, Brett, one of her nicer straight male friends, came round, and she ended up going to the pub with him. The crud was still in front of her vision, but was getting to be how the world looks, like having eyelashes is.
'I saw Viola today,' he eventually got-round to saying, 'and she seemed a little upset. You didn't...?'
'Of course not.' said Carrie, 'that would be hopelessly uncool. No, I was just a bit headachy and hungover and clumsy this morning. and I broke her cup. And she flew off the handle.'
'Fair enough,' said Brett, 'she gets a bit out of order sometimes, does Viola. Not like you. Carrie; you've got your feet firmly planted on the ground.'
'Oh, right,' said Carrie, and hid her blushes in her pint.
She was moderate in her drinking that night, but had had enough so that, when she walked home, she was feeling uninhibited. And, by the time she got to the monumental masons, on the corner by the church, her feet were hurting a little; she could not help remembering how nice they had felt that morning.
There was an angel in the mason's yard, and its wings were spread and it was pointing an admonitory finger upwards. The rods and cones and patterns, that had been floating across her sight, and tempting her feet, all day, came together as a long clear gradient ahead of her leading in a slow spiral to the top of the church tower, and then on, endlessly branching, like the ones in airline ads.
'Oh, why not.' she said to herself, 'go for it, gal.'
So she took a run at it, and soon she was walking round the church tower, which was really in a shocking state once you got close to it; then she started run along one of the lines and it was like running had never been, a sort of soaring.
She thought to herself that she might as well go on, because if it was a dream, and she stopped and went home now, she'd hate herself in the morning.
Somehow she seemed to move faster like this, and running seemed like a sensible way to go on, but then her foot clipped something and she stumbled.
'Oh shit,' she thought, 'wake up time. It had better be.'
She was going straight over forwards on to her face and she struck her arms out to try and stop herself, like you would on the pavement, except that she was a hundred feet above the pavement. Sticking her arms out changed her balance. and she found herself briefly diving towards the ground, and then turning upwards again. It wasn't like soaring any more; it was soaring.
'Oh wow,' she said, looking down at the street lights, and the Thames beyond them, 'up, up and away. Or what?'
She dipped and dived and rose and fell, and the more she did it, the less she had to think about doing it. It was easy, that was what was wonderful, and scary, about it; it was like sex. You find out what you like to do, and the finding out is the hard part, and then you just get on and do it, and it never seems to be that much of a problem any more.
The nice thing about having short hair was that the rush of air through it was not too ferocious; if it had been really long, and streaming behind her, it would be just too much like having a web of intense sensation wrapping your skull when you were trying to think and steer and enjoy what you were doing. She had always wondered why cats sauntered so much when they were indoors, but imagine being a cat and running around and constantly twanging your whiskers on things. Whereas, as things were, it was a rush like cold showers and fresh orange juice and the sheer wild adrenalin zing of riding the powers of the air.
The force of the air against her face seemed to be keeping her glasses in place; presumably there were aspects of all this that had nothing to do with aerodynamics.
An hour or so later, she started to yawn, and she had to think a little about how to get home. She hadn't got her A-to-Z with her, and she didn't feel like going close enough to the ground to read street signs - there were still people about, and she had an uneasy feeling about all of this - but after a bit, she worked out that railway lines and churches and open spaces, and a general sense of where North is, will sort it out for you. It took only twenty minutes, which was quicker than a cab, and cheaper. She had left her bedroom window open, which meant she did not even have to go down to street level; this was the first time she had ever felt good about living on the tenth floor.
The next few nights were fun; she took to sleeping in - there was no point in not doing except on days when she had to sign on - and going out once it was dark. At first, she just got off on the aerobatics side of things - going high and fast and looking down at the city as if it were a carpet she was examining for a lost contact - but after a while it made more sense to practise at lower levels as well.
If she went too high, there was always the risk of air traffic, and she had been very lucky so far, and sooner or later she was going to have to get used to being nearer the ground. After all, sensing the currents and riding them was a bit easy when there were not things in the way that you had to get round or over - she was just going to have to get better - and paying attention to rooftops and high-rises and fly-overs was probably the best way to get there.
She was still worried about passers-by, but she reckoned that if she only went out at night, and wore black, which she'd be wearing most of the time anyway, the chances of her being spotted were minimal. And she needed her leather jacket anyway; she did not have much trouble keeping on course when there were cross-winds - they did not stop her doing whatever it was she did - but they could still make her unpleasantly cold.
Then there was the night when she had nearly not gone out at all because it was pouring with rain. It is bad enough keeping rain off your glasses at street level, let alone when you are up near the clouds it is dropping from. But it did mean she could get some practice with low-level work, with less likelihood of anyone turning their faces upwards into the rain long enough to catch sight of her.
She was crossing London Fields, reflecting that there was a time when she would have had more sense than ever to go near the dingy common at night; when she spotted a woman walking down one of the paths. Carrie slowed down, one of the things she had learned, but somehow found easier to do when she travelled at high speed than if she went at a fast walk; hovering always left her dripping with sweat. It was worrying in retrospect that she had slowed down in advance; because it meant that she was well-placed when two youths, who had- not even been bothering to hide, rushed up to the woman, knocked her down and started to run off with her bag.
The awful thing was that it was so easy; Carrie did not even have to think about what she was doing - she dived down almost to ground level; and buzzed the pair of them, banging her fist down on their heads as she passed, turning rapidly and grabbing the bag on her second pass. She had not done more than daze them, but they were confused; she did not care to think what she might have had to do if they had come back for more, instead of pulling themselves together and running off as if bolts from the blue were a normal hazard.
As it was, she went back to the woman, letting herself down on to the ground so that she was ready to help her get up from where they had pushed her.
'I got your bag,' Carrie said. 'And they've run off.'
'Are you sure?' said the woman, brushing herself off, and pulling a face at the amount of mud on her hands. 'They might come back.'
'I don't think so; said Carrie, 'and if they do, we'll be ready for them. They only got you because you were unprepared.'
'Maybe,' said the woman. 'but they'll get someone else tomorrow night, or the night after. People are unprepared, even people like them; that's what being people is. They don't expect people to come along out of nowhere, playing God.'
Carrie tried to act as if she did not know what the woman was hinting at; after all, she might have been just walking past - it was dark and gloomy enough that people might not have noticed her.
'You were flying, weren't you?' said the woman.
'I don't know what you mean,' said Carrie.
The woman stared at her with a degree of hostility altogether unexpected in someone you have just saved.
'I suppose I'm expected to be grateful; she said, 'but what I can't stand is the way people like you think you're so much better than the rest of us.'
'What do you mean?' said Carrie. 'I don't think I'm better than any other woman. I know there are dykes who look down on straights, not that I know you're straight, but I've never been one of them.'
'Oh, are you a bloody dyke as well?' said the woman. 'But that's not what I meant at all. Is it, temp?'
She spat the last word with a degree of venom that Carrie found altogether unexpected.
'Fuck off then,' said Carrie. 'I'm almost sorry I got your bag back for you.'
'Fuck off yourself; said the woman, 'back where you came from.'
Carrie found herself wondering where this stupid bitch thought she had come from. then shrugged, and vanished upwards silently into the dark and stormy night, as silently as she had come. It is always important to feel yourself part of a community.
She had never let herself, over these past few weeks, think about her legal position, but somehow it did not surprise her when there was a letter from the DSS next morning, which called her in for interview, and included a statutory notice of inquiry into any Extraordinary Abilities she might possess.
She wandered into the office late - there was no point in being on time, and she wanted to make a point of sorts. She even went on foot: as a sort of dumb insolence. She went to get her number from the reception desk, and the woman sitting there sent her straight upstairs to an Executive Officer, Forbes, whom she had last seen when they tried to send her on a training course.
This time, though, he was not behind his desk, but standing uncomfortably to one side. A hatchet-faced young man had the chair.
He turned to Forbes and said 'I told you she was going to be late.'
Forbes said, 'But she always is anyway.'
'Yes,' said Hatchet-face, flashing an ID at her. 'But the fact that she was going to be late was one of the first things I knew about her, that and the colour of her underwear.'
Ah, thought Carrie, this is the bit where they try to lull you into a false sense of security by being pleasant.
'Why have you never registered?' he said.
'What do you mean?' said Carrie.
'You've been signing on for the last two and a half years,' said Forbes. 'And you've never once mentioned in any of your interviews that you had... well... powers.'
'We don't want to be difficult,' said Hatchet-face, 'but it is technically a fraud to claim benefits without registering.
'Oh,' said Carrie, 'I see.'
'We've had several reports,' said Hatchet-face, 'and it took us a while to narrow it down. It was only a couple of days ago that I knew for certain when I'd be meeting you. But you really should have been more careful if you were really serious about not registering. I mean, the odd precog or pyrotic can sneak past for a while, but let's face it, my dear girl, you have been being a bit blatant: What I can't understand is why - having been reasonably discreet for the past, what, twenty-five years? - you suddenly start zooming round the skies and putting out a level of psychokinetic energy that can be picked up as far away as Penge and Slough.'
'Oh, do I?' said Carrie.
'Believe me,' said Hatchet-face. 'You're not even doing anything right now. And it is a little painful for me to be in the same room.'
Carrie decided there was no point in keeping stum.
The thing is; she said, 'that it only happened about six weeks ago. I haven't been being discreet in past; I didn't have anything to be discreet about before,'
'That,' said Hatchet-face; 'explains it: Well, come on; I'm going to have to take you to the Department and we haven't got all day. Ahm, Forbes, you can go on paying her benefits for the moment; we'll let you know when she starts earning EP allowances.'
Carrie had really not thought of herself as a paranormal; it was something she had not bothered to consider. A lot of her friends had a bad conscience about paranorms; of course they were an oppressed minority, but most of them ended up working for the State, or being the sort of tycoons of the psychic that the Gods were mostly supposed to be. She supposed she had never met a paranorm knowingly in her life: and because flying was not something that any paranormal she had heard of ever actually did, she had sort of thought of it as something entirely different. She explained much of this to Hatchet-face, whose name was actually Hackforth-Fford, just to confuse the issue, who looked amused. He had insisted on taking her to the Department in his car.
'Oh; he said, 'and how would you know if one of your friends was a precog, even if they were registered?'
'I suppose I don't know,' said Carrie.
'The thing about us, dear girl,' he said, 'is that unlike some other minorities' - he cast a significant glance at her leather jacket and spiky bleached hair - 'we do not all consider it expedient to go around advertising wildly. I suppose it was inevitable that when a power as showy and perfectly useless as yours comes along; it would manifest in an exhibitionistic deviant. I trust you don't mind my speaking frankly.'
He said this in a tone of voice that managed to convey the fact that he knew perfectly well that she did mind. She had never appreciated the fact that one of the major temptations of telepathy is constantly rubbing people's faces in the fact that you know precisely what they are thinking.
'Just so,' he said, with a smirk. `I am right in thinking that you have no abilities except this flying thing.'
She tried to keep her mind entirely blank.
'Ah,' he said, 'not even a mind shield. I suppose that when someone comes to full power as what I may as well, for the sake of politeness, call an adult, it would be too much to expect that they not be hopelessly specialized. I mean, it's very spectacular, but you're not going to be as much use as a fairly common-or-garden single-ability psychic.'
Without having to be able to read minds, Carrie suddenly realized why this over-chinned upper-class bastard was being so utterly offensive to her. If he wasn't one of the Gods, he was something quite close - she knew enough to know that someone who was a precog and a telepath and a psycho-sensitive all at once was quite rare, particularly if they had held themselves together enough to get to be some sort of mandarin - and he must have enough power himself to light up a skyscraper, and he was jealous of her. Stinking jealous.
'Yes,' he said, 'but I knew that I could spend a few minutes giving you a hard time before you'd realize it. If I'm going to have to put up with watching you zoom around uselessly, the least I can do is remind you of how ordinary mortals feel. And in this one respect, as you have realized, ordinary mortals include even most of the Gods.'
He looked out of the car window; she could not read his mind, but she could read even that poker face.
'I mean,' he went on, 'there are those who could fly. There are those who can do just about anything, if they want to. Loric, say, though he'd have to find a spell that will convince his credulous subconscious that it can do it. But what they can't do, is do everything they might want to easily or gracefully. Do you know - but of course you don't; you don't know anything except your favourite brand of lager, the "in" way of rolling up your socks and some sort of half-baked bog-standard feminism - do you know how much power you control to be able to do the sort of fine-control flying you take for granted?'
'Lots, I suppose; said Carrie, starting to feel more in control of the situation.
'I showed the police film of you to Zeus, in Washington. And he wept. A grown man who can throw mountains, and he wept. He moves through the sky like a bulldozer on ice, he doesn't fly.'
'Well,' said Carrie, 'if it's perfectly useless; there's not going to be much call for it, is there? So why not drop me at the next tube station?'
'You are confusing the fact of utter uselessness, with the potential of being, none the less, used,' he said, and the smirk on his face was as readable as his plans were inscrutable.
'How did you catch me?' she said. 'Police cameras aren't that good, surely.'
'You light up the sky, if you know how to look.'
'But I thought psycho-sensitives just sort of knew if someone near them was paranormal.'
'There are,' he said, 'quite a few paranorms with a knack for finding others; and then there are proper psycho-sensitives. It's like empathy and telepathy; an empath would know you were annoyed, and a telepath knows which sort of oil you want to boil me in and what - ah, scrambled eggs - you had for breakfast.'
When they got to the DPR, he proceeded to leave her sitting in a waiting-room for half an hour; a secretary, who said her name was Marcia, brought her the Official Secrets Act to sign, filed her nails while Carrie explained why she thought this a real imposition, and took it away when she had signed it. Carrie followed her down the corridor to her office; Marcia told her where it was and even gave her some of the office supply of paper - you don't need telepathy for everything.
Carrie wandered back in; she was bored. 'Anything I need to know about working here'
'Well,' said Marcia. keener to moan than to ignore someone. 'Don't ever eat the fish pie in the canteen, for starters. And there's this flash Harry who comes in, advertising man; don't ever listen to a word he says. But anyway, you'll start off at the College; people usually do.'
'Not Ms Smith; said Hatchet-face, coming into the room. 'She's going to be much too busy.'
Later on, as she sat in the pub with Brett, whom she had rung up because he moonlighted at the local Law Centre, she asked him whether they could really make her do it.
'Well,' he said, 'the trouble is that they can put the onus of proof on you. You say you've only been able to do this for a few weeks, but even then, technically, you should have gone and registered within a fortnight.'
'So they can send me to jail if I don't do what they say.'
'If they really wanted to,' said Brett. 'But they can send anyone to jail if they really want to: particularly claimants.'
'And I think I'd go nuts now, if I couldn't go into the sky.'
'Sounds to me dangerously like an addiction, Carrie,' said Brett She was not wholly sure whether or not he was joking.
'Yes, Brett,' she said, 'but it's better for you to be clean and sober, and there is nothing better for you than flying.'
'I wouldn't know,' he said. 'So you'll let them use you to sanitize the whole Temps policy by being a PR front for it?'
'If that's the choice,' said Carrie, 'but it's not as simple as that, anyway. I mean, being everyone's dream of flying, well, it's got to be good for all the paranorms with boring powers. People in the street, they hate paranormals-there was this woman the other night. And besides, there is one thing they can't do, and that's make me go back into the closet.'
'Yes,' said Veronica, who had loomed into the back room where Brett and Carrie were drinking. 'But what decent woman would ever let herself be touched by you? I always knew that you were riddled with patriarchal crap, Carrie Smith - leather and cosmetics and Goddess knows what else - but this latest manifestation... Well, Viola came and told us all about it; her politics stink, but she is at least a woman, and not some sort of monster.'
'I'm sorry, Veronica; said Carrie, 'but I don't see precisely how my ability to fly is anything on which you could claim to have a feminist position.'
'Of course you can't,' said Veronica, 'and that just proves it. You're just an, elitist, Carrie, looking down on other women.'
She turned on her heel and left. Brett looked slightly stunned.
'You see,' he said, 'that's what it's going to be like. People don't like it when old acquaintances go new and strange on them; I mean, I did wonder why you never came out for a drink any more, until Viola started making a bit more sense and I spotted you one night through my bedroom window, silhouetted against the moon.'
'And most of the temps I met round the office don't seem to like me very much either,' said Carrie. 'It's enough to put you right off the human race. And then there's Hatchet-face.'
'Where does he fit in?' said Brett. 'I didn't think they had paranorms that senior in the DPR, except for whatsisname - Loric - like they don't have ex-teachers in DES.'
'Oh,' said Carrie, 'he's some sort of hot-shot from the Central Office of Information, on secondment. DPR sharpening its image, with me as the penknife.'
'Not much fun,' said Brett. 'Want another drink?'
'Might as well,' said Carrie. 'And then there's all this bloody public-school nonsense about Gods.'
'They're just high-powered paranorms,' said Brett.
'Well,' said Carrie, 'I know it started as slang - but you know how people are. Call someone a God and he'll start believing it - chance to despise people. I've not met this Loric guy, but he sounds like Hatchet-face times ten. Why are people so dreadful, Brett, why do they enjoy hating each other?'
'It's easier,' said Brett, 'than being miserable, which, I've found is how liking people, or caring about them, or being nice, usually ends up.'
The next few weeks were indeed less than entire fun. On the one hand, Carrie quite liked being in the open and being able to fly by daytime, but on the other hand, there were all the attempts they made to clean up her image. They couldn't make her wear a skirt, that was one relief, because she pointed out, not entirely truthfully, that it would make her aerodynamically unsound and constantly flash her knickers at the world; and the leotard-and-cape idea did not survive a couple of Immelman turns when she managed to send the whole thing flying. Hatchet-face tried to make her wear a wig, but it got into such a mess so fast they had to accept the haircut as it stood. The odd thing was that she seemed not to need her glasses as much any more.
When they put her through the press call, Hatchetface butted in before she could say anything to avoid the issue of her sexuality by merely saying she wasn't seeing anyone at present, and letting the punters assume what they would She wore her Act-Up T-shirt, and pink and black triangles on the lapels of her jacket, but that never got mentioned in the press stories.
And she grew to loathe shopping centres. All of a sudden, she was a celebrity, and she was always having to drag banners round the sky, advertising special deals on cat litter and canned tomatoes, in small towns in the Midlands. She quite liked children, but she got to hate going to schools and telling them a lot of half-truths about the Temps policy; it was a cleft stick she was in, because the policy was sort of working, for the first time in years. Bernard Manning was not telling nearly as many temps jokes, for one thing; and temps-bashing went into some sort of a slump, or so Hatchet-face told her.
On the other hand, though she had tried to be as bland as possible, the Great British Public did not like her very much. They wouldn't let her talk about being a dyke, but that did not stop the Sun dropping prurient hints about it. She was a stroppy cow, like Princess Anne or Edwina Currie, just not as much use, and hardly, when on the ground, even that much of an ornament. She found herself getting depressed a lot of the time, and she did not dare let herself eat or drink very much, because she knew how much they love you to become a lush or a fatty.
But the actual flying, that was a different matter. She rarely let them send a car for her, because she could go there faster by herself, and even the other end of the country never made her tired; she would have tried to go abroad, except that Hatchet-face said her contract forbade it, until the EEC agreed a unified Temps policy. And she was not sure that she could cope with crossing the Atlantic, not yet anyway.
She got to know the skies of Britain like the streets of Hackney; the thermals around Skiddaw were just a feature like the complicated zebra-crossings where Well Street crosses Mare Street. There was one place where they could not touch the core of her, and it was a mile above their heads.
She stayed in Leeds one weekend; she had to sleep sometimes and one of the good things about all this was that at least they'd pay for a hotel for her. Marcia had booked her in at a hotel neither central nor pleasingly countrified, but it was Hatchet-face who got swollen feet from the under-floor heating.
Carrie rarely let her feet actually touch the floor these days. They had made her curtsy to the Queen, but they had not been able to make her land. The bed in the hotel was not very comfortable, but increasingly she used beds as a way to drape herself with a duvet to keep herself from drifting - the air was softer than springs.
That night she couldn't sleep, and so sneaked out by a back window, just to fly until she wasn't insomniac any more. She headed up to the city centre, and then there were police sirens going and fire engines. She followed them, and then overtook them once it was clear where they were going. There was a house half-way up the Chapeltown Road, one of those red-brick houses set back from the road. that used to be vaguely grand and now are run-down flats. It was ablaze, and there was a man on the roof, waving a crossbow; there were two children on the roof with him.
Carrie slowed up and let herself gently down behind him.
'The Beast is upon us,' he shouted through the smoke. An unpromising start to any dialogue, she thought. The children were crying.
'Don't cry,' he yelled at one of them, and brought the stock of the crossbow down on the girl's head, clubbing her to the ground. 'Time for crying when the seas give up their dead, and your whore of a mother descends from the sky.'
Smoke got into Carrie's nostrils, and she coughed. He turned.
'Look who's come to see you die,' he said to the children, 'but you'll die first, unnatural whore.'
Carrie had rarely done a vertical take-off that fast, let alone come straight back down kicking, but she was better at flying than she had been, and, though she hadn't been to the gym for weeks, she seemed to be stronger than when she used to work out. The bolt whistled yards below her, and she kicked the bow out of his hands.
What she had not calculated was how much it still hurt to stub her toe, and she lost a precious second or so reacting to the pain. In that time, he had seized the child still standing and hurled him from the roof.
Carrie grabbed the girl, clutched her to her chest with one arm, and dived past the father's furious punch. She had never carried anything before except a rucksack with a change of clothes in it; it had never before seemed something she needed to be able to do.
She was falling fast, and she let herself fall all the harder for the kid's weight, and forced herself to fall faster. They were almost at the pavement when she was able to reach out with her free arm and grab the second child, and thrust herself up as hard as she could. Even so, she came down hard, taking the fall into a crouch; she had not damaged anything, she guessed, but she was not going to be able to move without discomfort (or a week.
There was a dull thump a few yards to her right, a thump that included the snap of bones; the father had overbalanced striking at her and had followed her off the roof.
'I suppose you couldn't have saved him, too,' said the fireman who helped her to her feet, and took the children main her. Both were crying, and she couldn't swear that they were both entirely unhurt - she had wrenched at the boy's arm in snatching him - but at least they weren't hurt.
'Give me a break,' she said, 'I can't do everything'
''Spose not,' said the fireman. 'They talk as if you can, sometimes.'
'That's not me,' said Carrie. 'That's the Gods. But, yes, it is a shame he had to die like that.'
The fireman turned away to hand the children to an ambulance man; it was as if he wanted to keep them away from the contamination of Carrie's gaze. So he did not hear her mutter, 'It is a shame, because I would have liked to see him burn.' In the firelight she had seen blood on his hands, and she knew it was not his or the children's.
'Grandstanding?' said Hatchet-face, strolling slightly gingerly out of the crowd that had gathered behind the police cordon. Sick from the smoke and hurting in every, joint, Carrie let herself lean on him all the way to the car.
'Actually,' he said, as his chauffeur drove away, 'I am impressed.'
'Oh,' said Carrie, 'and what is the "but" going to be?'
'Never,' he said, `take risks like that again.'
'I wouldn't have got hurt.'
'That's not what I meant; he said. 'As it is, fair enough, you come out of this looking good. If they think you could have saved the madman as well, well, half of them would want him to hang for what he did to his wife and mother - yes, observant, you guessed right about that - nailed to the wall with crossbow bolts, very nasty. But imagine, you stupid little woman, imagine what would have happened if you had missed the boy, or if you hadn't managed to save either of them.'
'But they were both going to die,' said Carrie.
'Yes,' said Hackforth-Fford, 'but if you had tried and failed, the punters would have blamed you. If it had been just the boy, it would have been worse; because then you'd have been a castrating man-hater who only saves males. I know you think I give you a hard time, but you should be grateful - there are people out there, there are people in Parliament, who would like to kill us all.'
'Well,' said Carrie, 'if they want to, why don't they?'
'They're frightened of the Gods, is why they don't; that, and the fact that it is hard to be scared of most of the temps they know about. Captains Croak and Kipple may not be very much use in a crisis, but they deflect the hatred into contempt. But you and me...'
'You and me...?' Carrie said
'Carrie Smith,' he said, 'despite appearances, you are not entirely stupid. You and me, we are two of a kind. We, are, in our different ways, powers, but we are not Gods; I am smart, and you are brave, and that and the power we hold make us frightening. If they ever summon the nerve to kill any of us, it is you and I and our equals they will want to kill. No one wants to kill the jokes; no one could kill Zeus; but we can be hated, and we can be killed.
Carrie thought for a bit.
'So I took a stupid risk,' she said, 'and it paid off, and no one is the worse for it, except that bastard, who wanted to be dead anyway. What I can't understand is why, if it was that stupid, you did not stop me before I was halfway out of the hotel window.'
'That,' said Hackforth-Fford, 'is something that worries me. You see, I didn't know any of it was going to happen until about twenty minutes ago, not properly. I knew something was in the air, and I got the car ready for a drive and cruised until I knew.' He looked at her speculatively and then leant down and kissed her on the mouth.
`No,' said Carrie, dragging the back of her hand across her mouth, 'even if we share some things, there are others that we don't share. You may be able to con some of the punters that I'm straight, God knows how, but don't con yourself, sweetheart. Besides, you can read my mind, and I can't read yours, and that means that I have to assume that any move youmake is part of some sort of unscrupulous scheme.'
The odd thing was, she didn't feel repulsed because he was a man, or because he was a prick but because she just did not have much emotional energy for sex any more. This worried her, slightly.
'Besides; she said, 'even if you were out of range of my mind, presumably you can track me with your other powers.'
'The future goes wavy round you,' he said, 'and you're this great burning blaze of energy. Over what street in Hackney or Leeds is the sun, Carrie Smith? And you can't look at it to find out.'
But he seemed nicer for a few weeks, and she stopped having to do supermarkets, and the school trips were less of a chore.
She went and visited the two kids in hospital, and the boy's dislocated shoulder was OK, and they were glad to see her, sort of; but there was fear in their eyes, and she did not feel like staying. She spoke to their psychologist, who said she didn't think it would be a very good idea for her to come again, but did ask her for her autograph. It was the first time an adult had.
The psychologist also asked her out for a drink; she was a nice woman with the sort of ponytail that reminds you how long horses' tails really are. They had cocktails, and went for a Chinese meal, and Carrie thought about whether to ask herself back.
She didn't, though. She went on Pride though, and flew up and down the march until she found a 'Gay Temps' banner; she let herself down on the ground and walked with the small group, mostly men, until her feet started to give out, and even then she just let herself a little off the ground.
'People told me you were out as a dyke,' said a man from Taunton who could make green sparks come of his fingertips, in the beer-tent queue, 'but they say that about everybody.'
'I was a dyke before I was a temp,' said Carrie, 'but it never used to matter so much.'
'I got thrown out by my parents,' he said, 'but it was for both things at the same time. I don't know whether that's worse, or better. Still, the good thing about green sparks, is that no one expects anything of you; you can just be a silly old queen, who happens to have a party trick.'
Then Veronica and Spike turned up, and just stood there hissing at her, and she looked at the gay, and he made a green spark come out of his nose and his ears at the same time, and she lifted off, waving at him, and went to listen to the bands, from an acoustically advantageous position some twenty feet above the stage.
There was nothing in the papers about her being there, but there is precious little in the papers about Pride in any year. She asked Hatchet-face, and he said he had nothing to do with it, though he did not see why she had to make such a big deal out of her immature sexual preferences, Sometimes he seemed like a friend, and sometimes she hated him so much, and mostly she wished he was just not there.
Then one day, she was sitting in the office, cooling her heels like a good little girl, while Marcia concentrated on doing painful looking things to her cuticles as a way of having an excuse for ignoring her, when the phone rang.
'Could you come to Trafalgar Square?' said Hatchet face. 'Straight away.'
She dived out of the window, without even bothering to tell Marcia where she was going. It-was not very far to Trafalgar Square, not as the crow flies.
There was a mobile crane parked between the lions, and a police cordon and an ambulance. Hatchet-face beckoned her down, and there was a shot, which came nowhere near her. He handed her a flak jacket; and drew her and his companion, a smooth-faced man in a sharp suit, to one side; she put it on, looking at him inquiringly.
'Well,' he said, 'you know how the IRA blew up Nelson's Column in Dublin.'
'Yes.' she said, 'pretty ace, wasn't it?'
'I might have known; he said, 'that you would have the wrong sympathies on this one. None the less...'
'What are they doing?' she asked.
'They've planted a bomb up near the statue.' said the smooth-faced man, to whom Carrie found herself listening with oddly undivided attention, 'and stationed a sniper on top of Canada House; I don't know why he missed you, because he has winged two policemen already, and a WPC is critical.'
'They reckon,' said Hatchet-face, 'that if you go up fast like you did in Leeds, and spray the bomb with foam, he'll give up.'
'And what is in this for me?' said Carrie.
'The gratitude of the nation,' said Hatchet-face, with a straight face. He really does mean that, she thought, poor sap.
'Well,' she said, 'the whole idea sounds really dumb to me.'
'What do you think she should do?' Hatchet-face asked his friend.
'Well,' Smooth-face said. 'You seem to know what's best.'
He turned to Carrie. 'I think you should do what he says.'
'Well,' said Carrie, her mind caressed by his voice. and slightly cotton-woolly. 'I can't see how blowing up some statue is going to make Ireland free and one, and, while I can see the point in shooting coppers, I disapprove of men shooting women. Tell you what Hatchet-face, if I do this, you let me off the hook; if I'm a national heroine, I don't have to swan around being a role model, do I?'
He handed her a canister of something, and she went straight up like a rocket. There were several shots, but not one of them touched her; she went up high, so high. She wanted to swoop down on this like a stooping hawk; theatre never hurts when everyone is watching and she had to allow for the flak jacket.
Halfway through her dive, the bomb went off. She was still a hundred feet upwards of it, and it was a shaped charge that disintegrated the column while leaving the statue in several pieces to topple slowly rather than shoot up at her in shrapnel.
Even so, things whizzed past her on the wave front and something clipped the side of her head and left it bleeding; the front itself sent her spinning. The web of pattern that was usually so clear went jagged, and the pulled herself across the sky like a spider with a broken leg, sliding cancrizans and bouncing off loose ends as if they were the fragile branches of a falling tree. She managed to hang on to consciousness, long enough to drop the last six feet into one of the fountains. Luckily, there was some water in it.
An army captain rushed up to her.
'That was a damnfool useless stunt, Smith. What good did you think you were going to be able to do?'
Hatchet-face had a disappointed expression on his face: the smooth-faced man seemed to have gone away. She could not understand how they had managed to persuade her to be so stupid. She staggered over to them, wiping the blood from her torn forehead, her usual few inches above the ground. An ambulance man followed her.
'You're hurt' he said. 'Where do you think you are going?'
'Second star to the right' she answered, dreamily. 'And straight on till morning.' Then she passed out, waking several hours later in a hospital bed.
The odd thing was, she was almost more of a national heroine for failing, gallantly, than she would have been for succeeding. TERROR FIENDS IN CARRIE MURDER MISS, said the Sun; she preferred the Telegraph's more dignified MONUMENT DESTROYED: IRA CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY: TEMP SLIGHTLY HURT.
Oddly, there was no mention of any policewoman being hurt; Carrie came reluctantly to the conclusion that Hatchet-face and his anonymous friend had just known which buttons to push to get her to do something stupid.
When they let her out of hospital, she went back to the estate and rang Marcia to say she had got a sick note for several weeks; her flat was still there, even though she hadn't been using it very much. The horrid fascist old woman on the floor below insisted on bringing her up cups of tea every half-hour, which got tedious after a while, particularly because being someone that someone like that would regard as a national heroine was not Carrie's idea of a good time. Eventually she put on a pair of shades, and went down to the pub.
Brett was there, and was quietly sulky with her.
'I know you didn't have any choice but sell out; but did you have to become a hireling mercenary of the Imperialist state?'
'I didn't know that there were mercenaries who weren't hirelings, Brett,' she said.
'I thought you used to go to Troops Out demos.'
'Well, yes, Brett, but there is a difference between how you feel when it is just politics and how you feel when someone shoots at you, at you personally. Besides, I was set up, I think. There was this guy...'
She told him the whole story; and her suspicion that Hatchet-face had decided that she was even more use to the Department, and to some sort of notional paranormal community, as a dead heroine than she would be as a PR bimbo, or as a fallible heroine who might always put her foot in it, or drop the baby, next time. Plus she had turned him down, and he probably wasn't used to that.
'What I don't understand,' said Brett, 'is how, if this guy is this total hotshot all-round psychic triple threat, he could fail to know what you were going to do next. I mean, it was your deciding to show off that saved your life, wasn't it? And that was something I could have predicted, let alone some ace precog.'
Carrie was still thinking about this, as she flew home afterwards. She decided to hang around London Fields, just in case; and after a while, two women wandered south along the path and the same two youths came out after them. This time, Carrie had stopped off at a building site and liberated a couple of poles; she dropped one of them, quivering, into the ground in front of the youths, and then hovered, with the other poised like the Louisville Slugger.
'I hate violence, boys. Don't you?' she said, though there was a side of her that was quite looking forward to a ruck. She had got fed up with being pushed around, and being conned into compromise. They disappointed her, and left.
It slightly spoiled things for her that the two women she had saved turned out to be Veronica and Spike.
'I suppose you think this is some way of scoring a political point' said Veronica. 'Well, it isn't.'
'You're just participating in the same power structure that produces that kind of male violence, and perpetuates oppression,' said Spike.
'You haven't saved anyone,' said Veronica. 'Not really - because at a structural level you're helping destroy.'
'The nice thing about the problems I have these days,' said Carrie, 'is that I know you're talking nonsense. There are two children who are alive because of me, and would have been dead otherwise. That's a fact, and all your fancy talk won't cover that. Also, sweethearts, I don't have to stand around and listen to this crap.' And off she flew.
And since she had nothing particular to do with her evenings, that was how she spent them for a few weeks. Just hanging around in the sky, waiting for something to happen. Some of the women she helped were even grateful, not that she found herself caring very much. It is always good to be part of a community, but she was finding that all more theoretical; she didn't really feel that she loved, even in an abstract and sisterly way, any of the women she saved.
She ended up in casualty a couple of times; once she gave evidence in a couple of court cases, the youths she was hunting knew she was out there. Which meant some of them thought twice, and also meant that some of them thought of her as a target to be taken down. So she got a split lip one time, and another time a nasty gash across the palm of her hand. There is a limit, though, to what they can do when you can be a hundred feet above them in a second. There was a limit to how much anger she could feel with idiot bastards who were so vulnerable to her; those that she fought, she did not hate.
Viola came round to see her.
'Look; she said, 'I'm sorry. I was out of order that morning, and telling people about it. I don't know what come over me.'
'It's called bigotry,' said Carrie.
'Yes, I know,' said Viola, `which is why I'm saying I'm wrong. Besides, I wanted to say how much I admire what you're doing.'
'Thanks,' said Carrie.
'You're actually doing something when all we did is talk about it.'
'I suppose so.'
'And I think it is really out of order for Veronica to go around talking about how she refused to let you rescue her.'
'Well,' said Carrie,'it was nice of you to drop round. But I'm busy right now. I've got to go and look at some clouds.'
'Carrie,' Viola said, 'I've been thinking... I know you used to fancy me; and... well... can we talk about it?'.
Hero worship was not fun from any source.
'Nice of you.' said Carrie, 'but no thanks. It's like flying, you see, only it's not as good, and you have to have other people around. And I'm finding it harder to like people. much.'
She was flying a lot, for its own sake; she could enjoy it much more now no one was making her do it, and now her sense of duty was something she could take or leave alone. Where flight had once been a pure and virginal joy, now it was something that was battered and worn and true; there is a delight in doing something for the hundredth time that is different from the delight of the first, simply because the hundredth time the delight is plump, with confidence, and the slight tang of boredom makes it rich. Patrolling was something she did to make her feel a solid citizen, but flying was the point, flying up as high as she could breathe, higher all the time, dodging the thunder and keeping an eye out for jets, and taking risks because that was what she wanted to be doing.
The Department was leaving her alone, except for the small cheques, but eventually she came back to her flat in the morning to discover a car waiting for her. It went to Chelsea - the driver wouldn't tell her anything - but when she was shown into an elegant flat in Tite Street, she was not terribly surprised to see an elegant middle-aged man sitting in an old leather armchair. At a desk behind him, a gold-plated fountain pen was doing calligraphy exercises, without anyone holding it.
'We haven't met, of course;' he said.
'You're Loric, aren't you?' said Carrie.
'Why, yes; he said. 'How gratifying to know one has some small recognition.'
'Well,' said Carrie, 'of course, I've never bothered to look at any photographs, but the press stories always make you sound like a posey prat. And there's a limit to how many posey prate the Universe can bear at one time.'
He ignored this. 'You've been a bit naughty, haven't you? You know we don't like vigilantes.'
'I don't regard the Department as having much claim on me any more,' said Carrie.
'When I say "we". I do not mean the Department.'
'Well,' she said, 'I'm just a concerned citizen, active in the community, I guess.'
'Stick to that line, and I suppose we can tolerate it' Loric said.
'I intend to; said Carrie. 'I used to be out on those streets, and no woman is safe.'
'And that's the other thing,' said Loric. 'No one is safe. Do you know what happened to me the other day?'
'Hackforth-Fford tried to kill you; said Carrie.
'Are you just being perceptive; said Loric, 'or are any little Talents creeping up on you that you haven't bothered to mention?'
'I don't know,' said Carrie. 'But I'm pretty certain he :=-to kill ate, though I don't quite understand...'
'I looked at the police camera video-tape,' said Loric. 'I suppose you'd never met the persuader socially.'
'I think Marcia said something once.'
'Anyway,' said Loric, 'I thought I'd involve you in this; courtesy between colleagues and all that.'
He showed her into a large bare room, which did not seem to fit into the plan of the flat - but what did she know? - where, to her not especial surprise, sat Hatchetface on a wooden chair, struggling with invisible chains.
'Young man,' said Loric, 'I really did not appreciate the device, you know. That sort of thing keeps one on one's toes, of course, but it ruined a perfectly good chessplaying automaton, and three erotic netsuke.'
'Good,' said Hatchet-face. 'At least it spoiled your day.'
'What is your problem?' said Carrie.
'You are,' he said. 'You don't understand, do you? When you do your aerobatics, you make patterns. The patterns are a music, but they play very loudly. I can't hear you think; I don't know what you are going to do.'
'Oh, ridiculous,' said Loric. 'Of course she makes a noise; but one can tune it out.'
'With respect, sir,' he said, 'there are some things I can do and see that even you can't'
'Why don't you just stay away from me?' said Carrie. 'You don't have to look at the sun.'
'Oh, but I do; said Hatchet-face, almost crooning. 'They are very pretty patterns, and once your brain is burned...'
'You see why I brought you round' said Loric. 'He's making a bit more sense, now. Really, Carrie Smith, Gods do have to learn not to break people, you know.'
'"If there are gods,"' Hackforth-Fford interrupted, '"how could I bear not to be a God?"'
'Nietzsche,' Loric explained. 'Another maniac. I had hopes of the young man, you know. And now he is going to have to spend some considerable time in a comfortable clinic. Or somewhere. One might have wanted to retire one day.'
'Don't look at me,' said Carrie. 'It's not my fault. He never let me understand. Men, you're so stupid; you're all the same, you want to keep control. A woman would have been prepared to bend and change, when death and madness were the stakes.'
Loric said nothing, and ushered her from the room. He saw her to the door.
'I'll deal with this.' he said.
'You're his role model, after all,' said Carrie, 'Why else would he try to kill you too?'
'Suicide bid, perhaps; said Loric.
There was one of those awkward silences that occurs when people have only one or two things in common, and nothing else.
'Nice suit.' Carrie hazarded.
'Oh,' said Loric, 'I have these little men.'
'In Savile Row?'
'These,' said Loric, 'are very little men indeed. I don't know that the Department will need you for PR now Hackforth Fford has gone. What will you do?'
'Oh,' she said, 'human beings let me down, but that doesn't mean that I give up on women, or on men. Not entirely. You have to go on trying to be part of people, don't you? Even a God has to do that, or a Goddess.'
'Quite so,' said Loric. 'I'd appreciate it, my dear, if you walked at least part of the way down the street, and don't start flying until I've shut the front door.'
'Why?' said Carrie.
'When it comes to your particular powers; said Loric, 'I fear that I too am a jealous God.'