VALTINA WAITED patiently for Ladaya to return with her next assignment. She didn’t know how much time had passed since she last saw her mentor. Time ran differently in Middle World, much more slowly than on Earth or in The Afterlife. Valtina had stopped trying to keep up with it several lifetimes ago, but Ladaya’s absence seemed long, even by Middle World standards.
As she waited, Valtina wondered where Ladaya would send her next. She was determined to earn her way into The Afterlife, and she was full of confidence that she would be successful. Her recent mission had been challenging but rewarding… Amy and Kyle were meant to be together. Matt was a lost cause and Valtina was able to finesse the situation for the best outcome. In just two days, she was able to create a long-lasting relationship that should have happened a lot sooner. Valtina was certain she could handle any assignment Ladaya gave her.
The last assignment was actually enjoyable. In fact, Valtina would probably have accepted the mission even if Ladaya hadn’t offered The Afterlife as a reward. In each of her lives, Valtina had been a passionate, sexual person. She’d never enjoyed sex just for the sake of sex. In each life she’d found her soul-mate, the one person whose spirit understood hers. And in each life, she and her soul-mate had enjoyed passionate, adventurous sex.
“I guess I am uniquely qualified for this job,” Valtina thought out loud.
“You certainly are,” said a familiar voice behind her. Valtina turned and found Ladaya approaching. She looked tired… and a little worried.
“Are you alright?” Valtina asked.
“It’s been a long three days.” Ladaya sighed. “We’re losing ground. We’ve tapped every resource we have, but evil is still winning. Their numbers are multiplying as ours dwindle. There’s still hope, of course, I just never thought it would get this far.” Ladaya smiled sadly.
“What can I do, Ladaya?” Valtina asked determinedly.
“We’re fighting many dark forces,” Ladaya explained, “forces that for centuries were happy to fight amongst themselves. Humans have always been affected by them, but never to such a large scale. But a few decades ago, these forces decided to unite under a common goal. Since then, their sole focus has been to end existence as we know it. And, as you know, the only way to do that is to rid the world of love. If the last drop of love dies, every living organism will follow… the barren earth will be left to every foul creature that’s ever been created. I’m sorry if this sounds repetitive, Valtina, but you MUST understand the importance of your missions.”
“I understand, Ladaya. Just tell me where to go next.”
“This case is much different than your last mission,” Ladaya began. “Claire and Henry are married, and they’re meant to be. But there are forces working against them… powerful forces. In fact, Valtina, I’m about to put you up against, essentially, your evil twin.”
“My evil twin? I’m afraid I’m going to need you to explain that,” Valtina said, taken aback.
“Think Valtina. Your strength, your love, your goodness, they’re all rooted in your sexuality. What’s the evil counterpart to that?”
Valtina thought for a moment, and then gasped. “You can’t be serious,” she said firmly. “They don’t exist. Not anymore.”
“That’s what we thought, but we were wrong. I think they’ve been waiting… the other creatures have set everything up just right, and now they’ve come out of hiding and they’re moving in for the final play.”
“So… you’re sending me after…”
“Yes. A succubus,” Ladaya interrupted. “I’m not sure of her true name, but Henry knows her as Charlotte. It’s important that we move quickly. Henry has only been under her spell for a few days. Claire and Henry have a nine-month-old baby, so Claire is distracted and hasn’t noticed any change in her husband. If we can keep her from finding out, we can save their marriage. We could wipe her memory, but we can’t erase the scars left by that deep of a betrayal. If she learns of Henry’s infidelity, their love will die.”
“We won’t let evil win Ladaya, I’ll do my best work.” Valtina took her friend by the hand and met her eyes. “My absolute best work. I promise.”
“You must Valtina.” She sighed, squeezing her hand. “Once you’ve broken the spell Charlotte has on Henry, wipe his memory of her. He isn’t cheating on purpose… she has total control. This isn’t something he should suffer for.”
“But how do I break the spell?” Valtina asked.
“Follow your instincts,” Ladaya smiled. “This is one area in which they’ve always served you well. Now, you’d probably be able to spot the succubus anyway, but your new powers will allow you to see her true form. You’ll see the true form of other creatures as well. Do NOT react when you see them. Some monsters can see spirits, so you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. If you’re ever in true danger I’ll sense it, and I’ll send help immediately.”
Valtina wasn’t scared. As a matter of fact, this was the most exhilarated she’d felt since she entered Middle World. Once again, she had a purpose, a reason for being. “What do you want me to do with the succubus after I’ve broken her spell?” she asked fiercely.
“Nothing,” Ladaya responded firmly. “You are to focus on your mission, and your mission alone. We have others in our ranks who are equipped to fight monsters. But the connection between her and Henry must be broken first, or anything we do to her will happen to him too.”
“I’ll do it as quickly as possible,” Valtina promised. “I’ll see you soon.” She smiled at Ladaya as the fog surrounded her, transporting her to Henry and Claire’s bedroom.