Capture of the Muse – Susan Pieters

He had sanitized the interrogation room himself, following his Queen’s instructions in every detail.  Even now he could smell how clean his hands were, the chlorine clinging like the overbearing cologne of a powerful man.  There were no powerful men here, however, and only one powerful woman.  He looked up at the two-way mirror and nodded past his reflection, a signal intended for the woman hidden on the other side of the glass.  He reached up to make sure his earpiece was perfectly adjusted before speaking.  “I’m ready.”

The Queen’s voice in his ear was crisp, the connection louder than usual.  “It took you long enough.  She’s almost thereSit down.”  He pulled out a chair and sat down as smoothly as if he had thought the command himself.  He opened the manila folder lying on the table.  The file was thick, three times the normal size.  He should have expected this, knowing the special status of this arrest.  He spread out the summary pages, preparing himself.

He heard her before he saw her, and when the door opened, he had the absurd thought that she was wearing bells.  He looked up to see if this were true.  When he caught sight of her white robes, he had to fight an impulse to get to his feet.  He forced himself to remain seated, or perhaps it was the Queen’s voice forcing him.  He had been warned that the new prisoner might affect him, even down here.  As the new prisoner fully entered the room, he saw her take high steps as if she were dancing, and he identified her sandals as the source of the jingling noise.  Her long robe swirled about her, an old fashioned garment that tied at the waist in a style that hadn’t been used for thousands of years.  She stood beside her chair for a moment and surveyed the room, frowning at the flimsy plastic furniture.  The bell-like noises ceased.

He heard a chuckle from his earpiece.  The Queen had chosen these furnishings herself.  “Tell her to sit.”

read the entire story in Pulp Literature Issue No. 2, Spring 2014.