Julius III walked to the edge of the terrace with a slow pace, enjoying each step as if he was walking around one of the boulevards in the city, rising his face to the fine rain falling from the artificial sky above him, smiling as a child who has been granted permission to go play outside with his friends. After reaching the low wall surrounding the private terrace raised his arms and stood for a while in that pose, arms stretched out in a cross, and started chanting an old tune that came to his head without even realizing it: “I’m singin’ in the rain / Why am I smiling / And why do I sing?”. He was really jubilant.
Moving his head slowly from side to side, he had a look at New Liberty. From his vantage point, atop one of the most exclusive, expensive and high-end towers in the entire city, almost every other building were beneath him. That he liked. He liked the exclusive, expensive, high-end way of living. He loved money, power and the rush both of them gave him. The other towers seemed dark and pathetic from his perch, rocks emerging from an umber sea created by the lower streets, hundreds of meters below his feet, where he could barely see some cars navigating the pavement quickly under the steady rain. No pedestrian on sight, of course, but yet Julius III cleared his throat, munched on the phlegm he got and then dropped it from the cornice to the anonymous pavement down the skyscraper, hoping to hit a hasty walker-by on top of his head. Maybe he wouldn’t even notice, obviously, with the ongoing downpour soaking the streets. That made it even more delicious, so he laughed out loud. He took a silk handkerchief out of his jacket’s inner pocket, carefully wiped his lips out and put the kerchief away once more. Probably the custom-made suit he was wearing was being utterly ruined under that persistent rain programmed by the Season and Climate Control Department, but he didn’t give a damn. He would buy another one. Ten more!
– “Do you hear me, insects?!” – shouted out to the air -. “I will buy ten more fucking suits!”.
Only a faint echo talked back. The rest of the buildings were still cradled by the murky evening with all their automatic shutters and climate panels shut for good. Only some flashing lights of several distinct colors, marking the highest points of the communication antennae or the equipment depots scattered among the other terraces, tore the evening gloom with intermittent bursts. He put his hands in his trousers’ pockets and turned around to go back inside. He bordered the large swimming pool -covered by a translucent cover that extended automatically in case of foul weather-, whistled to call the attention of the colorful exotic birds which were crammed in the driest part of the giant cage that was the artificial orchard they lived in, and took his left hand out of the pocket to absently cherish the sleek leaves of the ferns an huge alocasia macrorrhiza growing in the central flowerbed, while walking closer to the glass sliding doors. Theoretically they should open before he arrived to let him pass without even touching them, but he had turned off the house domotics to go out to the terrace; otherwise, the climate panels would have been closed, as dictated by its default programming. He moved the glass door without making a single noise, went inside the house and gently closed it back. His soaked shoes left small puddles of water on the parquet floor while he crossed the living room, but he could not care less. A round couch for eight people, upholstered in short fur mink. A 90 inches holo-television integrated in the back wall. A jacuzzi on the corner, with a holding capacity of at least 20 people. Furs all over the floor. Tapestries and paintings hanging from the walls. Background music playing relaxing tunes in a barely audible volume. He could get used to living there, for sure, but the fact was that it wasn’t his place. It was Patricia’s.
Ah, Patricia. Where was Patricia?
In the bathroom, that was where. Snapping his fingers with in an exaggerated and unnecessary manner, Julius III turned over his heels and crossed the living room again, heading to the opposite direction. In his way to the bathroom he stopped by the main bedroom, a chamber worthy of some oriental prince that displayed every sign of pure ostentation and squandering, from the snow tiger fur stretched at the bedside of the colossal canopy bed (imported on personal and special demand from Putingorod by Patricia herself), to the chandelier hanging from the ceiling with diamonds instead of crystals to reflect its light. He walked slowly to one of the nightstand, opened the drawer and smiled once again. A small carved ivory box, fragile as a little bird, was the only thing inside it. Inside the little box, carefully disposed in individually sealed compartments, several tiny square sheets of translucent paper. And permeating each and every of the paper pieces was the magical, sublime, cherished and irreplaceable Ambrosia. He had to fight to control his emotions. That godly substance had changed his life, catapulted him to new heights of success, creation and art never before reached by anyone else, and opened his mind to a whole new world in which he was an undisputed master, a titan among ants, an unparalleled genius without the need of any muses apart from his inseparable Ambrosia. How could he live without it before his good friend Pembroke gave him a sample that afternoon, almost a year ago? Simply unconceivable. He took with extreme caution one of the paper pieces, put it with almost religious reverence on the tip of his tongue, and closed the box with a childish giggle. It would melt in a few moments and his body would absorb the substance, even before that the effect from the previous dose wore off. Time to get back to Patricia.
He started to call her name in a soft voice while walking along the dark corridor. Another consequence of turning the domotics system off was that the lights didn’t turn on with his presence, but that didn’t bother him because it created a more intimate, romantic and personal atmosphere. The bathroom’s light was on and seeped into the corridor like a knife under the door’s lower crevice. What an accurate comparison. Putting his hand on the door’s handle, he turned it with premeditate slowness and peeked inside the bathroom calling Patricia again with a musical voice and a giggle. The woman was inside the ornate baroque bathtub, where he had left her. Julius III stepped inside and she turned her head with a start. She would have screamed at the top of her lungs, but the gag prevented it.
Julius III sat on the padded stool he had left beside the waterless bathtub, staring firmly at Patricia. Blood and tears run in equal proportion down her face, due to several cuts made randomly on her skin. On her naked body were also visible other displays of the grotesque art she was involved in at the hands of her former lover and protégée, from tiny circular burns forming complicate patterns in the inside of her tights, to geometrical scarifications covering her back. The man was looking at her like an artist inspecting a half-painted canvas, an incomplete sculpture or a badly written music score, weighing his options and pondering the best way to finish his work. As if he had suddenly reached a conclusion, his eyes lit up and he raised a stiff finger to the air. He got up and took his jacket off. Then his shirt. He dropped his garments without any care on the floor and grabbed the blood-covered knife he had left on the granite sink before going out. With a slow and calmed movement he drove the knife’s edge all over his naked chest, cutting himself badly and making himself bleed in abundance. Patricia kicked and screamed to no avail under the gag, opening her eyes wildly and trying to get free of her ties. Julius III was ecstatic; pain gave him a rush that, in conjunction with that from the Ambrosia, took him to the Seventh Heaven and he even had an erection starter. He moaned in delight.
– “Don’t worry, honey. You will enjoy this as much as I will”, said while he leaned towards the bathtub knife in hand.
The only thing he regretted about turning the home domotics off, deactivating the internal security system in the process, was that no one was going to see his artwork until next week, when Patricia’s family returned from their well deserved spa vacation on the other side of the city.