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User:Posti/Bottom Up

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Bottom Up

Author: Bob Stein

The dingy theatrical supply shop looked like it had been around since silent movies were big. That actually encouraged Andy – the questions that had cost him his job as a studio makeup assistant began with the discovery of old photos from the same period. He was almost afraid to go in. But it had taken a month of hard work to find this place, and he was out of time and money.

A bell jingled in the back when he opened the door, summoning a wizened old man with a firm handshake and cheerful smile that belied his obvious age. “Jason Lyons. Don’t usually get kids in here. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I was hoping you could help me with some information.” Andy hesitated. “I’m trying to track down an old special effects person named A. Hawk.”

Lyons’ smile vanished. He stared at the young man for a moment, and then sighed. "Andrew Parker, right? I've been expecting you." As Andy stood there dumbfounded, he locked the door and flipped the 'Closed' sign around. "Come on in the back."

They made their way back to a cluttered office, where Lyons moved a pile of papers to clear a spot for Andy, then plopped down in a tattered leather chair behind the desk. He leaned back and rested his chin on tented fingers, regarding the young man with remarkably clear blue eyes.

“How did you know who I was?” Andy finally broke the awkward silence. “I just found your address yesterday!”

“Because you are a stubborn fool that won’t quit. Even when it’s in your best interests. I got a call when you first starting asking about those damned files. It was only a matter of time until you found me.”

“Then you do know something?”

Lyons hesitated a moment, then nodded. “Yes. But you need to think hard about what this witch-hunt is costing you. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you, Andrew. You are hard working, reliable, and usually pretty bright. One of the youngest assistants in the business. If you are willing to drop the whole subject and leave, I can guarantee your old job back. But if you insist on pursuing 'A. Hawk,' well, I can't be responsible for the outcome. Understood?"

"Mr. Lyons, I gotta find out what this is all about. Whoever this person is, I got fired just for asking about him."

"Not him. Her. Hawk is a woman." The old man sighed and pulled open a desk drawer. "She'd have to be ancient now. I know she did the makeup for 'Frankenstein,' and that was back in the mid-thirties." He lifted out a large, tattered folder and placed it carefully on the top of the desk Andy blinked, and his mouth fell open. "That's impossible! Everyone knows that..." His voice trailed off, remembering the dusty box of photos and papers that had brought him here.

Lyons gave him an ironic smile. "Everyone is wrong. Almost every major make effect done from the 1920s up to at least the late 1980s was the design of Anosta Hawk. She sold her work to people like Lon Chaney, Ray Harryhousen, and Rick Baker, and let them take all the credit. The few people who know the secret keep their mouths shut. And those who ask questions..." His eyes darkened. "Some of them simply disappear."

The old man flipped the folder open to reveal a stack of old photos like the ones Andy had discovered. Some of the costume designs were unfamiliar, but others were instantly recognizable. Lugosi's Dracula, except the facial features were different. Same for the Frankenstein monster. The makeup was unmistakable, yet the actual faces were slightly different. All bore the name of 'A. Hawk' as designer.

It took almost another hour to go through the collection of pictures. Lyons left him alone for most of that time. When Andy was finally done, he struggled to find words. "What... I mean, why would anyone not want to be recognized? If all this is true, then she's the greatest single person in the entire history of movies!"

"And telling anyone would destroy a lot of people who are thought to be the greatest talents in the industry." Lyons pursed his lips together, and then pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket. "Now that you know this much, I suppose there's no turning back." He handed the paper to Andy, who opened it to find a set of directions.

"Anosta is still alive." Lyons had a grim look as he spoke. "In fact, I just spoke with her about you. She asked me to give you directions to her house, and invite you to visit her. Now."

Andy grinned broadly, confused, but delighted. "She'll really talk to me?"

“Yes. But only if you go now. The invitation expires in thirty minutes, and will not be repeated.”

“Thirty minutes!” Andy jumped up. “It will take that long to get there! Uh, thanks a lot! You don’t know what this means to me!” He was surprised to see tears in the old man’s eyes. “Look I promise I won’t tell anyone else. I just have to know the truth.”

“Go.” Lyons shook his head sadly. “You don’t have much time left.”

Andy practically ran back to his van, and actually got the old Plymouth’s tires to squeal as he pulled out. Even pushing speed limits and running more than one yellow light, it took too long to figure out his destination was an ancient brick warehouse. He parked in front of a heavy steel door that appeared to be the only entrance, and failing to find a bell, knocked. There seemed to be no response, and he banged hard, feeling growing frustration. Was he too late?

Just as he got ready to bang again, the door opened to reveal a tall, dark-skinned woman who appeared to be ready to take a bath. She was wearing a long silk robe and had a towel wrapped around her hair. "Andrew?" There was the slightest trace of an accent in her voice, probably European.

He blinked. At most, she wasn't more than fifty. Certainly not the eighty-plus that Anosta Hawk would have to be. Still, she knew his name. "Sorry. I got here as fast as I could. Are you Ms. Hawk?"

She smiled and shook her head. "No. I am her partner. Anosta is waiting in the studio. Will you follow me, please?"

Andy stepped inside, smiling to himself. Anosta's 'partner?' Working in Hollywood, he was not surprised by same-sex couples. What did surprise him was the decor inside. The crumbling brick walls outside hid an amazing display of indoor gardens and fountains, carefully lit to approximate natural moonlight. Furnishings were sparse, but expensive-looking, and the outer walls were draped in rich tapestries.

They weaved through the indoor paradise, heading towards the back. Leaves rustled in places as they passed, and he caught a few odd sounds. Pets, perhaps? None showed themselves, but he was certain that a fair number of animals or birds were hiding among the bushes and trees.

As they approached the rear, one of the heavy drapes lifted up, and another woman stepped out. Andy's eyes widened. If the first 'partner' was handsome, this one was an absolute knockout. Certainly no more than 30, she had long, raven-black hair framing what had to be one of the most perfect faces he'd ever seen. She smiled as they got near, and extended her hand to him. "Hello, Andy. I am Anosta Hawk."

Andy shook hands automatically, bewildered at first, and then greatly disappointed. "Umm, I'm very sorry. There must be some sort of mistake. The woman I was looking for is... uh,..." He struggled for the words, only to be interrupted by the black-haired beauty.

"Old?" She laughed and shook her head. "Don't worry, my curious young friend. I promise that you have found the person you seek. Come into my studio." She held the tapestry up and motioned for him to pass through the opening.

Mystified but curious, Andy did as he was told. And found himself in a huge workshop that was a makeup effects heaven. Life-sized statues of werewolves, aliens, and dozens of other strange creatures familiar to millions of movie fans were crowded along the walls. The fabled Cyclops that Harryhousen supposedly made for 'Jason and the Argonauts'. Both versions of the monster from 'American Werewolf in London." Even the murderous doll from the 'Child's Play' series.

This must be a granddaughter or even great-granddaughter of the original makeup artist. Of course. A family business, passed down from generation to generation.

Anosta brushed past him and waved a hand towards a small stage in the center. "The best way for me to explain my methods is to actually demonstrate. I assume you don't mind being the subject?"

He couldn’t believe his luck. At best, he had hoped to hear stories of the old days, or have a chance to talk about makeup techniques. She was willing to actually show him her secrets! “That would be fantastic! Um, are you working on anything special right now?" Andy looked around for signs of recent work as he stepped up on the platform.

The woman shook her head and sighed. "Computers have taken away the need for my skills, at least in makeup effects. I used to have a backlog of orders. Now it is easier and faster to make electronic shadows that don't exist. Nobody appreciates the old ways."

He watched Hawk pouring liquids from a variety of clay beakers into a large bowl. "So, did your mother actually create the original Frankenstein makeup?"

She gave him a puzzled look. "My mother? Of course not. It was all mine, though not one of my best. Took days just to find the right model." She muttered something that he didn't quite catch and frowned. "Well, are you going to just stand there? I can't create anything over your clothing."

"Uh, you want me to strip?" Andy flushed, trying to decide what to do. Hawk was either pulling his leg, or was certifiable. Yet he desperately wanted to find out more. Reluctantly, he started to undress.

Anosta nodded in approval and turned back to her mixing. "Do you have anything in mind? Since I'm not working on a project, it doesn't matter what we create."

The awkwardness of standing stark naked in the middle of this strange woman's studio abated a bit at her generosity. "Uh, what can you do? I mean, I don't want to impose."

She laughed. "You have already done that, Andrew. As for what I can do, simply describe anything at all. In fact, I'd like you to challenge me with the hardest creature design you can imagine. And don't worry about materials or time. Whatever you come up with, I'll have the finished model and a full-body positive mold done in less than an hour."

Andy's mouth fell open. An hour? It took days sometimes just to go through the process of molding a hand! However, the gauntlet had been thrown, and he decided to honor her request. "OK. The hardest effect I've ever seen is a convincing animal jackleg. Like a dog's hind leg. Most of the werewolf costumes use human legs, or animal legs that look way out of proportion."

The woman sighed. "Another werewolf? I was hoping for something a bit original."

He shook his head. "Not a werewolf. I was just using that as an example." Looking around the room, he spotted a statue depicting a young boy with the ears, horns, and hindquarters of a goat. "How about a part animal form, something with hooves? Like that one over there?"

Anosta looked over at the statue and nodded her head. “That does make an interesting combination of effects, but I hate to duplicate something I have already done. You deserve something a bit more special.” She thought a moment, then smiled. “An ono-sileni! A mix of human and jackass, sort of a donkey-sphinx. You’ll make a perfect Bottom for my young Puck there. Yes, that will be quite nice."

He knew both names. Oh, right. From Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. “But didn’t Bottom have just the donkey head?”

“Don’t believe everything you read. That is the original Puck, but the youth who was supposed to play Bottom called in the church censors when he found out what his role entailed.” The woman snorted. “No dedication to the arts at all. In any case, the Globe management reneged on their contract and chose to use simple masks instead.” A slight smile formed on her lips. “The theater burned to the ground shortly afterwards.”

He stepped off the platform and took a closer look at the statue. Either she had found some fantastic drawings of the original design, or had come up with her own version based on written descriptions. The last seemed most likely, for Puck was anatomically correct. Hardly appropriate for stage even now, much less hundreds of years ago.

Actually, several of the other figures were also obviously male or female, some with endowments that were not likely to get screen time on TV or most movies. That included the more humanoid version of the American Werewolf creature. Andy had seen what he’d thought was the original on display in Baker’s workshop, but now realized that had been a PG-rated copy However, the bigger difference between Hawk’s work and any makeup models he had seen in the past was in the detail. Puck was shown in a half-turned position, mouth just starting to open as he looked up in surprise. The expression and general features were so realistic that they had to be modeled from a real child "Andrew!" Anosta's voice sent him quickly back to the small stage. "We will work on positioning after I am done." She approached with a large wooden bucket. "This is a special sculpting agent of my own formulation. It is applied directly to the skin, and must be worked immediately.”

Directly on the skin? He glanced down at himself. There were only a few wisps on his chest, but his legs and arms had moderate brown fuzz on them, and there was a respectable patch around his genitals. “Um, don’t I need to use some cold cream or something?”

The woman set the bucket down next to him with a slight smile. “Don’t worry. I promise you will have at least as much hair when we are finished as you have now. Now, please stand still and do not speak while I work. Simply observe. I will answer your questions afterwards."

He nodded, feeling nervous, excited, and for some reason, a little scared. Still, he managed not to flinch as she used her hand to spread thick brown paste from the bucket over his skin. She started with his feet, lifting each one to cover the sole. Surprisingly, it did not squish out when he put his weight back on it.

The mixture was warm, and had a faint musky smell to it. Anosta worked up his legs, leaving an even coat which completely covered his skin. He flushed as she reached his crotch, especially when she built up his thighs and genitals. However, she was as indifferent about the region as she had been about his feet, continuing up his body without comment.

It was an odd sensation, as if he were being dipped slowly into warm mud. Although the paste was heavy, it remained in place even when she built up several layers on his belly, chest, and back. The process slowed as she worked his shoulders, smearing a thinner coating over his arms and hands. She put globs of the stuff over both ears, muffling sounds but not quite cutting them off completely. Finally, she ran a trail of paste from his forehead back through his hair and down his neck, and almost as an afterthought, brushed just a trace on his nose and lips Andy felt like he had gained a hundred pounds or more, though the bucket couldn’t have held that much. The added weight pulled him down and forward into a slight crouch despite his best efforts to remain upright, but Hawk didn’t complain. She moved the bucket aside and stepped back a moment, looking him over thoughtfully. Another blob was added at the base of his spine, and then she nodded in apparent satisfaction. “Rise up on the balls of your feet, and extend your arms down and a little forward.”

As soon as he complied, Anosta crouched and began smoothing the blobs of mud covering his toes. Andy watched in awe as she deftly formed very realistic, solid-looking hooves from the ooze. It hardened as she worked it, providing a sense of pressure against the floor, and more incredibly, support so that his tip-toed stance no longer required effort. Yet the rest of the coating seemed as fluid as it had when she first put it on He stared at the hooves as she worked up the backs of his feet and calves, not able to see what she was doing there anyway. What kind of material was this? No clay he had ever seen would dry so quickly, and it sure wasn’t latex. And it was astonishing how she was able to sculpt such fine detail in so quickly, without any kind of tool.

There was an odd pressure in the back of his right leg, and Anosta reached around to wipe a large handful of mud on his already distended belly. She must have put a lot more down there than she needed, for several more handfuls joined the first. The extra weight pulled him forward a little further, making balance precarious. However, she transferred some of the sculpting agent back to his buttocks and thighs, allowing him to stand easier.

Andy tensed as she worked around his rump – the woman certainly wasn’t shy! Nor did she skip any detail – if Puck’s makeup was as complete as she was making his, the area under the satyr’s tail was just as anatomically correct as between its legs.

Which was the next area of focus for Anosta. This time it took gritted teeth to maintain his stance, partly from embarrassment and partly out of curiosity. He could feel her building up his scrotum to hang much lower and heavier. Similar attention was paid to his penis, which was lengthened enough that he could just make out the flared tip. It was a miracle that the heat from his cheeks wasn’t baking the mud like a kiln. He hoped she was right about not losing any hair, for his enlarged shaft was soon encased in a sheath.

Anosta was apparently enjoying his discomfort, grinning as she began shaping the expansive belly. Why was she making him fat? Except that it didn’t really look like a pot belly. He tried to picture a donkey, and realized she was giving him the barrel of the animal rather than the more human chest and stomach of the satyr. Despite the thickness of mud encasing his midsection, there was no sense of restriction to breathing.

How could the sculpting agent remain elastic around his gut, yet be rigid where the hooves were? Andy tried wiggling his toes and discovered that they had gone numb. That was to be expected, seeing he had been on tip-toe for a while now.

Something flopped down over his buttocks as she worked his back. A tail? He was surprised that he could feel the appendage – the sculpting agent had already set and transmitted sensations of touch and pressure like a second skin. What controlled the consistency? Certainly not pressure – she had used similar force on his hooves and genitals, yet there was happily quite a difference in flexibility. Nor did thickness seem to be a factor – his belly must have a half-foot or more of the mud on it, and he could feel it expanding with each breath.

She had worked her way up to his upper torso now, continuing the donkey shape. He could make out the center of his barreled chest, and marveled at how well she had defined rib shapes. No one he had ever seen before could sculpt so quickly – her talent was almost as amazing as the sculpting medium she had devised. And yet she began to move even faster as she started his shoulders and arms.

A few quick swipes spread mud in a thin, even coat down each arm, and she took care to cover his hands completely as well, though they remained basically unaltered. Some extra layering was added to his neck, perhaps to make the transition smoother, and he felt her plucking at the strip that ran from his forehead back. Making the mane?

Then she attacked the blobs covering his ears. Sounds returned rapidly, actually enhanced by the towering appendages that she created. While he couldn’t see them directly, the shadow cast by lights overhead at least provided the general proportions.

Anosta stepped back and looked at his head from different angles. Extra dabs were added to his cheeks and jaw, and the smears on his nose and lips were blended out. Then she walked around him making a careful inspection. He felt her touch up his right buttocks, his left shoulder, and perhaps as a final tease, add a dab more to his dangling testicles. Finally, she peeled off her gloves and picked up a small glass of liquid that was a little too blue to be plain water. There was a straw in it, which she positioned close to his mouth. "Drink this."

“What is it?” He eyed the glass suspiciously.

"Oh, come now.” She snorted. “We’re almost done, Andrew. This liquid is necessary to achieve the look I want. It may taste odd, but I promise you it isn't poison. Quite the contrary." She offered it to him again. “Trust me. The results will be far greater than your wildest dreams. Isn’t it worth humoring me?”

Andy shivered, both from the cool air and his own nervousness. How had he ever gotten into this? Despite the warnings his mind was screaming, he found himself taking the straw between oddly thick lips and sucking down the liquid. It was a little bitter at first, but left a strange, sweet aftertaste.

"Time to get busy." She put the glass down and turned to face him. "Nosomos diedre cha dionysious sou pan lia co vive ninotu." As she spoke the last word, she lifted her left hand and placed it on his head.

The odd chanting was bewildering, but Andy was distracted from it by sudden warmth that began to increase. Was there a catalyst involved in her sculpting agent? Even latex appliances could get hot enough to blister, and he was almost completely encased in Hawk’s material. “Uh, this is heating up.”

“Perfectly normal.” She stepped back and watched him with an expression of amusement. “This will get very uncomfortable, but the pain will only last a minute or so.”

“Pain?!” Alarmed, Andy started to look down at himself, only to gasp as heat plunged deep into his body, penetrating flesh and muscle. And as the tendrils met in the center, they became an inferno that turned bones white hot and seared his body from the inside. Balance shifted and he fell forward, managing to catch himself with hands that hit the platform with a solid thud. Breath wouldn’t come, and he convulsed in silent agony And then it was over. He sucked in air, still trembling, and sat down hard as his legs gave out. It took a few more moments before he realized his hands were still on the ground in front of him. Confused, he looked down and stared. His arms had a much heavier coating of dark hair and looked oddly elongated. When he tried flexing his fingers, he discovered that both hands had stiffened considerably and had lost most of their feeling. Could such a thin layer of the modeling clay be that strong?

Then Andy saw that more than just his arms had gotten hairier – the barreled chest had vanished under a realistic-looking coat of gray-brown fur that continued all the way down his belly. Twisting around, he found the same animal hide covering what appeared to be an actual donkey’s body.

The illusion was so stunning that he actually forgot about the earlier pain. His hind legs tapered impossibly thin, showing no indication of human joints. Was it a trick of light? Then something twitched at the base of his back, and his attention was drawn to a ropy tail that flicked aside, the dark tuft of hair at its end hitting the stage with a soft thump.

Andy stared at the appendage. He had felt that. Not just the muscle twinge, but the impact of the end against the floor. He felt light-headed, and crouched over to get the blood to his head. Only to find himself staring at the dark flesh of his genitals. He pulled the heavy sheath back with one stiff hand. The black, heavily-veined organ inside and the sack dangling below shared only maleness with what had previously lived between his legs. They were X-rated works of art that had one glaring, overwhelming problem. He could feel them. Not through his semi-rigid fingers, but the sexual equipment itself. This wasn’t makeup.

Andy stared up at the woman, trying to find his voice. When he did, it sounded both different and younger than he remembered. "Wha.. what did you do?"

She shook her head. "I thought you would at least be paying a little attention. I have made you into what the original Bottom would have been." Despite her annoyed tone, there was a look of amusement in her eyes that he found vaguely frightening.

"But how? I mean, this can't be a costume!" The impossibility of the situation kept making him doubt the evidence. Eyes wide and frightened, he tried to stand. The equine hind legs pushed up, but he was pitched forward and abruptly sat on his rump again. "Is this all some sort of hallucination? The liquid! It was some sort of drug!"

"So quick to disbelieve?" She turned and pulled open the drape behind her to reveal a full-length mirror. Andy stared at the bizarre creature reflected back at him, struggling to comprehend. All that remained of Andy Parker were the wide, frightened eyes. The rest of the features belonged to a younger and homelier stranger. Andy had always been pale and thin, with wavy brown hair and small, even teeth. This face was broad and dark, topped by a tangle of flaxen hair split by a stiff mane. And the teeth revealed behind thick, dark lips were an orthodontist’s nightmare.

“Believe it or not, Arthur was considered a very comely youth. I suppose because he wasn’t scarred by Pox. Still, once I get a design in mind, I just have to stick with the original concept. This is exactly what he would have looked like if he hadn’t bolted.”

Andy looked up at her, his thoughts a jumble of terror, disbelief, and fascination. If this was a drug-induced illusion, it was awfully complete. He could feel the muscles of his tail and ears and they twitched, smell the animal scent of his furred body. "How? If this is real, how did you do it?"

She laughed and stepped off the platform to sweep the room with a gesture. "This is only the smallest fraction of my work. Go back two thousand years, longer even than that. My artistry has been embraced by cultures you have only read about in dusty books, and by civilizations so long dead that no one knows they ever existed.

"I have had many names. Anhotephe, Isis, Gael, Circe, Lucrecia. And the mortals who have fronted for me kept my secret well. This foolishness of movies and television simply provided a new application of one of my skills." The woman grinned. "It is not difficult for someone who can create a satyr or onosileni to come up with rather superior 'normal' animals.

“For centuries, I provided some of the most famous animals ever known. The original Lassie was a maid I got tired of. Did you ever see an old show called 'Flipper'? He was a Key West life guard who swam out to rescue me, and got swimming lesson instead. As for earlier efforts, you might have heard of a horse named Bucephalus."

Andy swallowed hard, trying to grasp what the woman was telling him. "You use... magic?" His voice cracked on the last word.

Nodding, she walked back to him and crouched down. “Real magic. Not the smoke and mirrors most mortals play with.” She felt his arms and back. “You look wonderful. Let’s see how practical the design is. Come on, stand up. On all fours this time.”

Feeling more than a little dazed, Andy struggled to rise. Anosta slid her hands under his rump and lifted. His arms started to slide out from under him, and he had to brace himself to keep from doing a face plant. However, he easily adjusted to the four-legged stance. His semi-rigid hands made sense now, as they functioned as forehooves.

Anosta stroked his ears, creating a pleasurable sensation that sent shivers down his back. “Very good. Let’s see how those arms work out.”

Curiosity overcame the bewildered fear that still clogged his thoughts, and he stretched out a hoof-hand. The woman helped him get down off the podium, and then stood back as he took some exploratory steps. He gained confidence quickly and found that the less he thought about it, the easier movement was.

“Wonderful!” She walked over to the worktable as he stopped suddenly and stared at the stone satyr.

"Oh, God.” The fog of bewilderment was lifting now. “This is all for real isn’t it? I’m Bottom?”

Anosta picked up a phone and pressed a button, then turned to him with a smile. "You can’t imagine how annoying that incomplete display has been to me.” She spoke into the handset. “We’re ready now.”

Hanging up, she walked over to the statue of Puck. "The process is quite simple, really. I didn't have to use the paste, but it gives me a reference point when I am doing partial transformations. I can change a person fully into an animal pretty much at will. However, I had to use a kind of youth potion to regress your age. Arthur was 15 – middle-aged for his time. If I changed you back, you'd remain a boy."

Following her automatically, he felt his fear build. "What do you mean, -if-you changed me back? I can't go out like this! I'm a freak!"

“You are a work of art.” She patted the ground next to the satyr. “Sit here.”

Andy followed her instructions blindly while his mind raced, still trying to accept what his senses were telling him. As he settled on the floor, the older woman came in, still wearing her robe and towel.

“Oh, he’s perfect! I’d recognize that rascal Arthur anywhere. Of course, that’s before you turned him into a pig.” Anosta’s partner grinned. “If I remember correctly, he was quite tasty.”

Tasty? As much as he hoped the woman was kidding, Andy had a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. He looked up at Anosta. “Please! All I wanted was to talk with you. Don’t leave me like this!”

She raised an eyebrow. "I showed you everything you wanted to know. However, I never said I would allow you to leave with that knowledge.” The she knelt in front of him and picked one of his hands up. “Oh, I could insure your silence by turning you all the way into a jackass. But you inspired me, Andrew! This is the best work I have done in decades. Besides, Puck has been missing his Bottom far too long."

Andy's jerked his hand back and stared at the satyr’s face. So real. Like all the others. Icy dread washed away all other emotion, for he suddenly knew the truth. "They were all people? All of those statues?" His gut twisted. "You're going to turn me into stone?"

Genuine surprise crossed her face. "Of course not! I can only sculpt living flesh.” Her eyes twinkled in amusement. “I don't believe you have been properly introduced to my partner?"

A towel fell to the floor between them, and Andy heard the hissing even as he automatically looked up.

"Her name is Medus..."

The End