Copyright 2021, Sarah Hartwell
Dream, Jan 2021

Outside the grand hotel, a coach came down the sweeping driveway. It was full of Chinese tourists who were visiting some of the glitzier sights of the country.

“Your turn,” said Miranda, “We need to obfuscate their journey so they don’t find the way back.”

I brought the tips of the fingers and thumb of my right had together and pointed this release gesture towards the coach, muttering the release word under my breath “K’tung.”

The coach did another circuit of the sweeping circular driveway, the driver on autopilot and the passengers a little brain-fogged. They would get the impression of a much longer journey, making it near-impossible to find the hotel again. “K’tung.” ANothre circuit.

“Three should do it,” Miranda said, “They’ll think they’ve had a nice long trip through the country lanes.”

“K’tung.” A third circuit and then we let them go.


What’s a release word, you ask? Or a release gesture? We come into our power at puberty, but undirected power would cause chaos or harm. So we control it with a release gesture coupled with a release word and train ourselves to only use power when we properly release it. My release gesture is the pursed right digits and the release word “K’tung.” Both gesture and word must be bare noticeable to plebs, something a sound we can make without facial movement, a gesture that, if seen, would be unremarkable. Miranda uses a flick of a forefinger and “N’now.”


He was sitting in the hotel mall not far from the barrier – chocolate-brown coat, mop of black hair – just he had said he’d be.

“You’re O?” I asked, using the pseudonym he mentioned.

“Sara?” he replied. I nodded. And he continued, “You said you’d show me . . .”

“The world of the beautiful people.” I completed.

It amused us, sometimes, to escort a pleb into our hidden world.

“Stay close behind me,” I told him, “And say nothing.”


We approached what looked a blank wall along the length of a corridor. The floor was unremarkable yellowish tile and the wall was plain white paint. It might have been part of an airport, or the route to the toilets in a shopping centre; just an anonymous unremarkable corridor and wall. But with the right word and the right gesture it melted and became the border. We slipped into the non-wall and into something far from unremarkable.

The yellowish tiles were now veined and streaked gleaming marble tiles, so highly polished they were reflective. Ahead of us were escalators connecting this mezzanine to a lower level. At the top of the down escalator and the bottom of the up escalator were security booths, just in case a pleb slipped their escort.

“Sara Kemperley,” said the security guy, smiling, “Always a pleasure to see a Kemperley.”

“I’m sharing power today,” I told him, meaning that I had brought along a pleb.

The security guy raised an eyebrow before saying “Okay,” and letting us proceed to the plaza below.

I heard O gasp at the sight. It has that effect on plebs. The presence of so much power and so many beautiful ones is overwhelming at first sight.

The plaza is a circular hall with a multi-tiered fountain in the middle. The fountain basin is a clover-leaf design glittering creamy marble and the lighting makes the water appear to be liquid gold. Around the outside of the circular hall is a colonnaded walkway of exclusive boutiques – his and her attire, accessories, or trinkets – selling refined articles, nothing brash. The colonnades were broken up by the escalators at one end, and double doors at the far end. The doors were glass panes set into gold coloured metal, the glass being slightly frosted and etched with art deco patterns. They opened into a short corridor of honey coloured tiles and the spa with its hot and cold pools, mineral flotation pool, swimming pool and lounging area. The spa, which I have used often, was rectangular and the colonnaded long sides were luxurious individual changing rooms.

Beautiful ones, men and women, glided around the golden fountain, chatting in small groups or sipping wines and juices from delicate glasses. Hair and clothing was expensively styled, long dresses that accentuated slender female figures without revealing much flesh (we don’t like to expose our flawless skin) or well cut informal suits for the men. It might remind a casual viewer of some aristocratic pre-war evening gathering, but there was a sense of immense power, held carefully in check. With such power comes the responsibility to use it carefully.

We circulated unhurriedly and several of my friends signalled to me, amused at my pleb hanger-on. Even if he saw our subtle hand language he would not understand what was being said. We can speak without sound, forming a comment in our minds and gesturing it to another on a barely discernible current of power, the only sign being a slight prickling in the air. Compared to pleb malls, conversation here is hushed, no loud or raucous sounds.

“A pleb, Sara? Really, what are you thinking!”

“Since when did a Kemperley keep a pet?”

“You tease him … he will spend the rest of his life trying to find a way back here.”

“They are so lumpish, such clods!”

It was true, a pleb cannot grasp or appreciate the subtleties of the beautiful ones. We can see so many more nuances of colour, hear so many more sounds, can distinguish the most subtle fragrances. Plebs are blind, deaf and nose-blind by comparison. I looked around, but O had vanished.

“Where has he gone?” I asked, but before one of my friends answered I heard gentle male laughter from the glass doors.

“It says he is sharing power!” said a male voice, “How ridiculous! Where is its chaperone?”

“Well if it wants to see the spa, I suppose we should oblige it, poor stray.”

I decide to let them tease O. They knew the limits when dealing with plebs.


After finishing my conversation I headed towards the spa. Through the etched glass doors and the short honey-tiled passage and through a second set of doors, more heavily frosted, at the far end. I inhaled the tang of the mineral flotation pool, and the innate fragrances of bodies of the beautiful ones. Plebs sweat, we modify our perspiration to create personal fragrances, subtle florals and sandalwood, faint spices and spring rain. O, still in shirt and trousers, floated face downwards in a mineral pool. Seeing – and feeling – my presence, several males hurriedly pulled him out of the pool. He coughed up water thick with salts. The pool would have to be cleaned to remove the stink of pleb.

“We wouldn’t have let him drown,” a sarong-wearing male said to me.

“Thank goodness he didn’t dive into the swimming pool – can you imagine the pollution?”

Already a group of beautiful ones, male and female and undecided, were using power to neutralise O’s shed skin cells, sweat molecules and skin oils from the water. The stuff congealed together like a soft candlewax. Others, noses wrinkled, used their power to dry him. He started to explain, but I shushed him. Someone gestured that I should take him back to his own kind. I agreed.


O followed me back through the passage and the plaza, back to the escalators to the mezzanine.

“Do you really think of us as sub-human?” he asked, very quietly.

“My people keep your people as pets,” I replied, You are human, we are . . . other.”

On the mezzanine there were a number of stalls selling very exclusive goods. The more understated it is, the more expensive it is. There was also a stall selling cookies. The vendor looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Let him fill a bag please,” I asked. “O, you will love these cookies – take as many as will fit in the bag.”

One of the beautiful ones would take just one or two. The flavours are multi-layered, the textures are to be savoured. But a pleb might taste only one or two flavours in a cookie, not the whole tapestry of flavours, odours and sensations. He wolfed down a sample and filled the bag with cookies, unaware of the amusement it caused. To our eyes, it looked crass. Such greed, and he couldn’t even taste half of the flavours!

“Do we have to leave?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, I can only bring you for a short visit.”

“Can I come back? Will I see you again?”

I shook my head. He’d probably spend days hanging out at the same place, hoping to catch a glimpse of me so he could beg another visit, but I would slip by, unnoticed. Like a loyal dog he’d wait and pine and hope to return. Even as the memories faded he’d feel that something was missing, and the longing, the yearning for something that could never be recaptured, would taint the rest of his life.


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