Rufus Thyme was wallowing in deep depression. Red City was in crisis and the end of time was fast approaching. As the second most powerful Alchemist in the city he was expected to supply an answer, a reprieve from inevitable destruction. He picked at scares on his skin and lashed himself with a leather strap. The pain distracted him from the real issue: he was second best! Jupiter Fogg was the leader of the Scientific-Alchemists and Thyme was second best. Fogg got all the perks and praise that came with being at the top of the heap. Rufus Thyme was given the scraps; yet he knew his discoveries were even more significant than Fogg’s. Thyme invented the Transform-generator and he perfected the process of bicameral-brain realignment so that two completely different individuals could inhabit the same body. What did Fogg ever do…only steal formulas from the late Carmine Stolemock and proclaim he perfected Transference Technology. Rufus wailed, “My work was entirely my own–based entirely on my personal vision. I am the proof of my success.” He continued talking to another person who lived inside his body, “Now the city is in crisis and who do they turn to–not me! They give Fogg the upper hand–letting him, and only him, use Stolemock’s old equipment and notes. Damn it all to kingdom come.” Thyme was very distraught. “That old con artist doesn’t have any theory or plan that I don’t already know. Pity me. I know climate change is causing the rift. I know Fogg is after the Philosopher’s Stone so he can save his own skin at the expense of everyone else. But I don’t know how far along he is toward implementing his damned plan.”
Rufus Thyme was an ugly man with the features of a Troll. It was rumored he was the result of a rape by a Troll on a human. The rumor carried more social significance than his education or his scientific contributions. Rufus harbored a deep resentment to all the beautiful people who ruled Red City–he was careful to hide his feelings and act like an obedient sycophant. He lived in a crumbling replica of an old castle in the middle of an artificial moor that was an attraction inside the largest mall in Red City. His living quarters were below ground in the castle’s dungeons where he carried out experiments on people he picked up at the mall. He let his anger out on his apprentices who were also used as experimental subjects. There was a chamber set aside for mutant survivors of failed experiments. Thyme needed to keep them alive temporarily so he could study them for clues as to what went wrong.
“It’s time for your bath,” Rufus Thyme hissed at his apprentice, Aaron Keepx. The boy was seventeen and Rufus thought the lad was beautiful. His eyes were shining azure globes beneath a heaven of blond, wavy clouds–and his skin was smooth and pale like the petals of a Lily. But, Rufus hated beauty. The boy was the Alchemist’s toy, a slave, one of many that Rufus kept on hand for experiments and amusements.
“No, please,” Aaron quivered. Rufus smiled and led the naked boy to the tub. A minor earthquake rumbled beneath the stone floor and caused rising fear and panic in the young apprentice. Rufus chuckled. Earthquakes were a daily occurrence now that Red City was on the brink of total disaster. The old Alchemist adjusted to the new reality of calamity–but he couldn’t live without his amusements. The tub was special. It was filled with bubbly water like an ordinary bubble bath, but swimming beneath the bubbles was a swarm of vipers and eels. The boy was petrified, but Rufus forced him into the tub. It was an experiment he rationalized. He needed to discover if trauma, perhaps death, could trigger an instance of extraordinary abilities in the suffering human.
Electricity pulsed through Aaron’s body. He felt the stings and bites. Blood began to discolor the milky white water. Just as he lost consciousness he felt the sensation of arms lifting him up. Alaina Shorre came to the boy’s rescue. She was a large, older woman dressed in a silk chamise. Her hair was piled high and her makeup was garish. She chortled, “Dear boy, I’ve saved you again. I’m sure you will show me how grateful you are.” Alaina was the other person inside Rufus Thyme’s body. It was a complete bicameral-brain split that allowed for the transformation: two different people with two different bodies existing in the same corpus. Alaina loved Aaron Keepx. She swooned over him and protected him. She also dominated Aaron and sometimes cuckolded him. He was forced to have sex with her even though he did not enjoy the experience, but his life depended on it.
Rufus continued to be vexed over Jupiter Fogg’s claim to fame and fortune. He needed to know how far Fogg’s plans had accelerated. He worried that Fogg would succeed while everyone else perished. To keep Aaron safe, Alaina convinced Thyme the boy would make the perfect spy. No one would suspect an innocent, pretty boy–and Jupiter Fogg constantly needed servants to carry out the less appealing aspects of his work. (to be continued)