* * * *
Greg Holmes was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming because he was standing beneath the cliffs overlooking Kabul.
He knew it was a dream because he was on the other side of the world to Kabul and nothing—not wild horses, not masked men with guns, not even a direct plea from Her Majesty herself—would make him return to this wretched patch of rock, sand and sun. It didn’t matter. A piece of him would always be left here, frozen in time amongst the heat and dust like fossils in the sand.
He was not alone.
A woman stood at the base of the cliff. As with most women from this part of the world she was covered from head to toe in a black burqa. In itself that wasn’t an unusual sight. What was unusual was the level of ornamentation added to her costume. Exotic designs and symbols were stitched onto cloth usually as plain and black as midnight. An exotic golden frill hung from the black scarf wrapped around her forehead. The niqab covering her face was composed of gold and precious stones. This was attire to attract rather than deflect attention.
And her eyes. They simmered with sinful desire.
The sun plunged out of the sky and the cloudless blue of midday turned to the deepest indigo of night in a few blinks of an eye. Time rushed around him as though he was standing in a time-lapsed film. The only fixed points were him and the girl.
She turned and headed towards the entrance to one of the caves that carved deep holes into the rocky cliff face. A warm orange glow emanated from within, promising warmth and shelter from the harsh desert night. The same fires flickered in her eyes as she reached the entrance and glanced over her shoulder back at Greg.
The meaning was clear. He followed her into the cave.
He was naked now. So was the girl. By the soft light of candles he caught glimpses of dusky skin, long lithe limbs, shapely swells of breasts and ass, and then the shadow-painted cleft of the most intimate part of all.
She beckoned him on with an outstretched arm, an exotic wraith painted in swirls of shadow and candlelight.
He stepped towards her, wanting—no, needing!—to put his arms around her and bear her down to the soft earthen floor of the cave. Needing to feel her warmth between his legs. Needing like a parched man needs water in the desert to hear her quiet sighs as they lay entwined together.
She opened her eyes and they flared orange like the fires of burning suns. Like the balls of fire rising up from a city as airplanes rained destruction down on it.
Greg’s desire burned away to fear.
Something terrible with burning eyes awaited him in the darkness of that cave.
Yet he couldn’t stop. Trembling legs put one foot in front of the other as he was drawn, inexorably, towards her outstretched arms. Her eyes expanded. Twin suns grew from tiny spheres the size of marbles into burning stars that filled his entire world. They became his world and consumed him. Beneath their scorching glare his body shrivelled to blackened charcoal and blew away like ashes before a bomb blast.
Greg jerked awake with a start.
Greg was not normally a dreamer and never as vivid as that. He stumbled out of bed and walked into the bathroom to splash water onto his face.
He’d heard some vets complain of Post-Traumatic Stress, but he’d barely seen any action in Afghanistan.
Barely had still been too much.
Frowning, he looked down. An erection was tenting the front of his underwear and showed no sign of going down. He supposed part of the dream had been sexual. He took care of it with his hand and returned to bed.
* * * *
A Succubus for Remembrance and other tales of Femme Fatales, out this weekend!