As she sipped her cocktail in the shade of the palm tree and watched the breakers crashing against the sun-drenched beach, Kendra gave a heartfelt sigh. When she and Alan had won a two-week holiday on this unspoiled paradise island it had seemed like a dream come true, but the dream had begun to turn sour the day they arrived.
To begin with, there was no airport on the island, which meant they had had to fly to its larger neighbour and take a four-hour ferry trip. The sea had not been especially rough, but Alan had complained of seasickness for the whole voyage. “Why couldn’t we have just stayed on the big island?” he had moaned.
“The small island’s nicer,” Kendra had insisted. “The big island has nothing but hotels. The local culture there’s been all but wiped out by tourism. The small island’s much more unspoilt, and the people have preserved most of their old ways.”
“Knowing my luck, the old ways will still include cannibalism,” he had muttered.
“Oh, come on. The guidebook says they’re peaceful hunters and growers and have a strong spiritual tradition.”
“Oh, you mean mumbo-jumbo. Worshipping wooden idols and chanting.”
“Whereas all you’ve ever worshipped are the great gods Anheuser and Busch,” she muttered under her breath.
On their first evening a group of native girls performed a traditional dance to welcome the tourists. Alan might have considered the natives primitive, but once he saw the local girls adorned in their grass skirts and floral tops (over what looked, in deference to western modesty, like modern bikinis - so much for tradition there) he had scarcely been able to take his eyes off them.
Still, Kendra reflected, they were gorgeous. She could almost imagine herself fancying...but then she dismissed the thought with a chuckle.
That night after dinner Alan had made love to her in their hotel room. It hadn’t been the worst sex she had ever had, but it was a long way from being the best. She knew that when he had held her he had been thinking of the native girls.
She might not have minded that so much, if only he had done to her what he obviously wanted to do to them, but instead he had seemed in a hurry to get it over with.
To give him credit, he had sensed her disappointment and apologised, claiming that he wasn’t over his seasickness yet. Although, she reflected, his supposed sickness had not prevented him from wolfing down a hearty dinner.
“Maybe tomorrow,” she suggested, “when you’re feeling better, we can go somewhere a bit more romantic. I mean, the hotel’s nice, but I’d like to make love on the beach, beneath the stars. Or in the palm forest, with the wind rustling through the trees.”
“And bats crapping on our butts,” he muttered sleepily.
“It’ll be an adventure,” she insisted. “After all, we came here to get away from it all. We should live a little.”
“Mmm...a’right, we’ll see...t’morr....” And with that Alan fell asleep.
The next morning Alan had cried off the excursion to the waterfall, claiming that he still felt queasy and maybe the hotel food hadn’t agreed with him. Kendra had enjoyed the trip and taken some nice photos, but it just wasn’t the same without Alan.
In the afternoon he seemed to make a remarkable recovery, and accompanied Kendra on the trip to the local shrine where several handmaidens danced and chanted in reverence to their Goddess of growth and fertility. The tourists had been warned that this would involve some partial nudity, but that didn’t seem to put too many people off going.
“It’s a curious coincidence,” whispered Kendra. “There were no native girls at the waterfall and you took a rain check, but there were lots of them at the welcoming dance, and there are some here as well, and you attended both of those events.”
“Hey, what are you suggesting? I told you, I was sick this morning. Probably that dinner we had last night.”
“Well, all I’m saying is that nobody else got sick. I ate the same as you and I’m fine.”
Alan seemed about to make some remark that he would have regretted later, but a that point the dance ended and a woman wearing a long robe of multicoloured feathers stepped forward and raised her arms.
“I am Suhani, priestess of this island,” she intoned. “In the name of the Goddess, I welcome our visitors. May they find pleasure in the beauty of our island and joy in the bounty of its harvest. May they find peace beneath the sheltering palms and wisdom in the song of the winds.”
“I feel like I’ve stepped into a scene from Pocahontas,” muttered Alan.
“Quiet!” hissed Kendra. God, why did he have to embarrass her like that?
If Suhani noticed their exchange she gave no sign, but merely continued: “On the night of the full moon the Avatar of the Goddess is carried in procession about the island, from the ancient volcanic peaks at its heart to the white beaches at its periphery. This ensures that the whole of the island will receive the Goddess’s blessing for another moon. The four handmaidens who have the honour of performing this task - Hinui, Tarani, Nuvi and Murukai - will now bring forth the Avatar to impart the blessing of the Goddess upon our guests.”
“What the hell’s an Avatar?” whispered Alan.
“Kinda like an idol, I guess,” replied Kendra.
Sure enough, four bare-breasted girls stepped into the circle, bearing on their shoulders a wooden platform bearing a statue. Slowly they lowered it to the ground and stepped aside. Kendra was surprised that such slender girls had been able to carry such a heavy-looking object.
The life-size statue depicted a naked woman sitting lotus-fashion with her arms by her side and gazing calmly ahead. It appeared to be made from carved and varnished wood, but was startlingly lifelike compared with the natives’ usual highly stylised art. Its hair was so intricately carved it was almost possible to see individual strands. Its eyes were so finely painted they seemed to be gazing at the audience. It even had realistically-carved nipples and genitalia. They might have been shocking to some observers, but after all, it was the statue of a fertility Goddess.
“Wow, that’s incredible,” breathed Kendra. “It’s so...erotic!”
“Yeah,” whispered Alan, “but not as erotic as they...as you are.”
Kendra hadn’t realised she had spoken aloud, but Alan’s reply seemed to confirm her suspicions: namely that he had only come to ogle the nude dancers and not to gain cultural insights. And was it her imagination, or was one of the handmaidens looking at Alan somewhat...knowingly?
“Goddess of the island,” said Suhani, “impart your blessing now, we pray, through your Avatar. Let it bring our visitors peace and wisdom, and wherever they may travel may your blessing go with them.” With that she and the four handmaidens began to chant rhythmically, hypnotically, their bodies swaying in time.
Kendra found herself staring at the statue. She could not tear her gaze away. The statue suddenly seemed the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and she found herself wishing she could touch it, embrace it, just to know how realistic it felt. Then gradually she was overtaken by a kind of tunnel vision. First the statue’s body and then its face slowly vanished into haze leaving nothing but its eyes. The eyes seemed to be looking deep into Kendra’s soul, and she seemed to hear a voice saying, “This is the one.” And then she was falling, falling into those deep wells of blackness....
The next thing she remembered was being back on the tour bus, and the driver announcing that the next stop would be at the orchid gardens.
The next few days did not go at all well. Alan repeatedly found excuses to avoid travelling with her, and at night he was too tired for lovemaking. He claimed was exhausted from swimming. That might have been true, but if so, Kendra suspected, he hadn’t been swimming alone.
When she had finally confronted him with her suspicions he had become evasive, but had not in so many words denied them....
The following day Kendra had booked herself into a separate room.
So now here she was, drinking by herself, while all the other holidaymakers were having fun. Kendra sighed again and took another sip of her cocktail, watching the sun slowly setting on another wasted day.
Further along the beach a steel band was playing - a style of music imported from another ocean half the world away, but none of the audience seemed to mind that. At the inner edge of the beach, near to where the trees met the sand, the outdoor bars and seafood shacks that stretched for miles in both directions were doing a roaring trade. Out on the waves a group of surfers were taking the opportunity for one last ride before the light failed, while lifeguards in their towers kept an eye on them. And of course there were couples doing what couples did on every sunny beach on Earth: sitting together in every conceivable stage of intimacy, or just strolling along the sands hand in hand.
And meanwhile Kendra sat alone, abandoned.
I’ve got to snap out of this, she told herself. There are plenty more fish in the sea.
Then she chuckled bitterly to herself. Yeah, and with my luck they’ll all turn out to be sharks like Alan.
Once more she sighed. Then she found herself blinking. Something in her eye?
Oh, no! she thought. No, no, no, damn it! I am not going to waste precious tears on that...that...bastard...!
But in spite of herself she found herself sobbing uncontrollably for several minutes.
“I’m sorry,” someone said in a local accent, placing a hand on Kendra’s shoulder.
Kendra looked up, brushing away the tears. The newcomer was a girl of about eighteen, wearing only a sarong. The islanders’ laissez-faire attitude to nudity also applied to the tourist beaches and their occupants.
“Oh,” she muttered, “I remember you. You’re one of the handmaidens who carried the...what do you call it...”
“The Avatar of the Goddess.“
“Right. So...are you the one he’s been fucking behind my back?”
“No, no, not me. I’m Nuvi. Alan met my fellow handmaiden Tarani the day you both arrived, and he has been seeing her ever since. Sometimes he sees Hinui as well, and the three of them together....”
“All right, I get the picture,” sighed Kendra. “Fine behaviour for two of the Goddess’s servants, isn’t it?”
Nuvi also sighed. “I told Suhani about them, but all she said was, ‘I am priestess of the Goddess of fertility. I can’t stop people fucking each other.’ I was going to tell you myself, but then you found out anyway. I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah. Well. I appreciate it, I guess. Oh, my glass is empty. Can I get you a drink as well?”
“Oh...yes. Thank you.”
They walked to the bar together like old friends. Kendra bought the drinks and the two of them walked back to the trees, their shadows stretching almost to the shore. Electric lanterns strung between the shacks were beginning to cast their coloured light over the beach. Kendra and Nuvi sat together sipping their cocktails and chatting.
“So,” said Kendra, “how do you get to be a handmaiden of the Avatar anyway?”
“Oh, once a year four maidens of between fifteen and twenty years are chosen for the honour. The...what is the word? Like in an election...candidates, that’s it...place a small piece of wood which each has carved with her own special symbol into a sack. The first four whose symbols are drawn out of the sack by the priestess become the handmaidens.”
“So then you get the honour of carrying the statue around the island once a month.”
“That’s right. Once every full moon, thirteen times in all during the course of the year, we carry the Avatar on its traditional journey from the shrine up to the summit of Mount Uruhé, then in a big leftward spiral down to the northernmost tip of the island, just a couple of miles from this beach. And then back to the shrine again. I don’t think anyone’s measured the distance in miles, but it takes a whole day to complete the trip - with plenty of rest breaks, of course.”
“I imagine it must be tiring carrying that heavy statue all that way.”
Nuvi chuckled. “Oh, it’s not quite as heavy as it looks. We like to say the Goddess bears some of the burden.”
Kendra suddenly realised that the sun had set while they were talking. Near the equator sunset was always fast. Further down the beach there was music and laughter, and she sighed again, remembering why she had come here and what she was missing. “I wish the Goddess would bear some of my burdens,” she muttered.
Nuvi smiled. “Why not?” she said.
Kendra raised an eyebrow. Nuvi stood up and offered Kendra her hand.
“Come with me,” said Nuvi, “and we can seek the Goddess’s help together.”
“The shrine, of course. We can touch the Avatar and beg the Goddess’s favour.”
“But what favour are you looking for? You’re already a handmaiden.”
“That is true, but I dream of becoming the Goddess’s Chosen One.”
“What’s the Chosen One?” asked Kendra.
“Every ten years the Goddess singles out one tribeswoman to become her special one, her...what is the word?...her representative on Earth. Her last Chosen has served her term and soon another must take her place.”
“Oh. So the Chosen is like a priestess or something.”
“Like a priestess, yes, and yet so much more. The very power of the Goddess flows through her. Without the Chosen the Goddess would have no power on Earth, so the Choosing is vital for the island and its people.”
“So who does the Choosing?”
“Why, the Goddess herself, of course. The Choosing is far too important to be placed in mortal hands.”
Kendra must have looked sceptical, but Nuvi just smiled. “I suppose this must all seem very quaint to you, but believe me when I tell you the Choosing is vitally important to us. That is why I must go to the Avatar this night and pray that I might be chosen. Will you come with me?”
Kendra thought about it for a moment. A girl she hardly knew was asking Kendra to follow her away from the well-lit tourist resort into the pitch-black interior of the island where they might encounter snakes, spiders, scorpions, mosquitoes, poisonous plants and heaven knew what else.
“All right,” she said. “I came here looking for adventure, after all. Lead the way.”
Nuvi lead Kendra into the forest that came down to the edge of the beach. Once they were a few metres into the forest the trees quickly cut off the light from the lamps, so that the only illumination was faint moonlight filtering through the canopy. There were some strange and alarming noises, but Kendra told herself they were just harmless birds and insects. At least she hoped they were all harmless. But neither the noises nor the darkness seemed to bother Nuvi, who led Kendra confidently through the trees and assured her that the path was safe.
After what seemed like an hour the two women emerged into a moonlit clearing, which Kendra recognised as the shrine she had visited a few days earlier with....
No, she thought. Don’t think about that rat.
She had thought the shrine was further inland, but maybe the tour bus hadn’t taken the most direct route.
At the back of the clearing was a small hut whose entrance was covered with a broad curtain of cloth. Sliding this aside, Nuvi stepped into the hut and a few moments later the wooden statue emerged into the moonlight, pushed by Nuvi.
If anything the moonlight made the statue seem even more realistic and alluring than when Kendra had seen it before, and she could not resist reaching out a hand to touch its wooden breast. Nuvi, stepping around to the front of the statue, saw what Kendra was doing and smiled. “Good,” she said. “Now, while you are touching the Avatar, tell the Goddess what you pray for.”
“Umm...OK...I feel kinda silly doing this, but....” Still holding her hand to the statue’s bosom, Kendra looked into its eyes and said: “Goddess, if you can help me to get over breaking up with that bast...with Alan, and maybe help me to find some happiness in my life, I’d be really grateful. Um, thanks.”
“Very good,” said Nuvi, kneeling beside Kendra and placing her own hand upon the statue’s other breast. “Now it’s my turn. Normally I would pray in my own language, but the Goddess won’t mind if I use yours so you can understand what I’m saying.” Nuvi gazed into the statue’s eyes. “O Goddess, I beg that you Choose me this time. I know there are many others who are equally worthy, but this is what I have dreamed of all my life. I beg you, Goddess, hear my prayer.”
Then Kendra, whose hand was still resting upon the statue’s breast alongside Nuvi’s, felt a sudden rush of joy and well-being, and she gasped in surprise. At the same time Nuvi moaned aloud with pleasure, then sighed. “The Goddess has heard our prayers. Perhaps I will be Chosen soon.”
Then before Kendra knew what was happening, Nuvi embraced her and kissed her full on the lips for several long moments.
Hey, no, she thought. I don’t do it with girls. I mean I’ve never....
But another part of her was thinking: (Well, there’s always a first time.)
But I still love Alan!
(Yes, and look how he repaid you. Running off with a handmaiden...well, Nuvi’s a handmaiden too. In other words, two can play at that game.)
But this girl is a complete stranger.
(You’re the one who said you were looking for adventure. Besides, you prayed to the Goddess for happiness. This could be your big chance at finding it again.)
And then somehow the first part of her found that it had lost the argument, and she was naked in Nuvi’s arms, and the ground beneath them was surprisingly warm and soft, but not as warm and soft as Nuvi’s insistent aresses...so that in the end there was nothing to do but surrender to the inevitable.
At least I know now why she’s called a handmaiden!
For the longest and most incredible hour of her life Kendra felt Nuvi’s hands and lips exploring every nook and cranny of her naked body, bringing her to peak after peak of sexual sensation. At one point as she was moaning aloud in ecstasy she thought she heard Nuvi whispering, “Now, Goddess! Choose me now, I beg you!”
But when her orgasms finally ebbed away and she began to drift into a blissful slumber, she seemed to hear Nuvi’s voice crying in a strange language, yet one that Kendra somehow understood: “Goddess, why? Why did you Choose her and not me? It isn’t fair!”
Before she could puzzle out the meaning of this, Kendra slept, and dreamed.
In her dream she was visited by the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, who made love to her and told her, “I have Chosen you. You may find it strange and difficult to come to terms with your new position at first, but you must trust me when I tell you it is for the best. At first the other islanders will find it hard to accept a foreigner as the Chosen, but in time they will come to realise that I am never mistaken in my Choice.”
“I...I don’t understand. I mean, what does being Chosen really mean?”
“In the morning you will understand. Sleep now.”
When Kendra woke, she found the priestess, Suhani, crouching over her.
“So it is true,” said the priestess. “The Goddess has Chosen an outsider.”
“What does it mean?” asked another voice. “Is the Goddess angry with us? Has she turned her back on the island?”
What are they talking about? Kendra wondered.
“If that were truly the case,” replied Suhani, “There would be no Chosen One, and the island would truly be doomed. But outsider or no, we have a new Chosen and the ceremonies must be carried out. Fetch the Avatar.”
Maybe I’ll ask them what they’re talking about, thought Kendra. Maybe later, when I don’t feel so sleepy.
And then Suhani stood and let her feathered robe fall, and lowered herself naked onto Kendra’s body.
Hey, what’s going on? thought Kendra. This is the second woman who’s tried to get off with me in twelve hours...the third if I count that dream...have I suddenly turned into a lesbian-magnet?
It was strange. Before that day Kendra had never found women sexually arousing, yet now images of dusky naked maidens danced through her mind, causing her to become more and more excited by the minute. And then Suhani began to brush her fingers and lips over Kendra’s skin and incredible sensations began to overtake her. Kendra was feeling too lethargic to protest, even if she had wanted to, and so for the second time in twelve hours she found herself passively accepting another woman’s sexual attentions.
Suhani’s lovemaking seemed to last for hours, although the sun scarcely seemed to move. It was as though time was standing still for the lovers. Finally, when she least expected it, Kendra was overcome by a sudden rush of pure, unadulterated pleasure. If there’s a Heaven, she thought, it must be like this. She wanted to cry out with joy, to declare her undying love for Suhani and embrace her fiercely. But only a soft moan escaped her lips, and her limbs remained flaccid.
As the priestess stood up and walked away, seemingly in slow motion, Kendra gazed lovingly at her long black hair, her lithe brown arms and legs, her gracefully curved torso and peach-like buttocks. The sight was overwhelmingly erotic. How could she ever have seen anything in a flat-chested, hairy-legged, muscular, testosterone-charged man like Alan? When she thought of her ex-lover now (he might not know it yet, but he was definitely ex as far as she was concerned) he seemed as attractive as a block of wood, and only slightly less intelligent.
Kendra wanted to stand up and follow Suhani - in her post-coital euphoria she would have followed the priestess anywhere - but she was feeling sleepy again. She felt vaguely guilty to be sleeping the day away, but then, she thought, she was on holiday.
As she drifted off to sleep once more Kendra was puzzled by the realisation that she had not moved a muscle while Suhani made love to her.
The next time Kendra woke she was overjoyed to find Suhani bending over her once more and gently caressing her breasts.
But then she realised that someone else was caressing her arms, and someone else was caressing her legs, and someone else was caressing her abdomen - and someone else still was caressing her clitoris!
My God, it’s all of them, she realised. She’s invited all four handmaidens to join in! And between them they had already brought her to the brink of orgasm.
No! she thought. One at a time is all very well, but this is damn near rape!
She wanted to cry out in protest, leap to her feet and run away...but then she was overpowered by an orgasm that went on for several minutes and drove all conscious thought from her mind.
When at last she was able to think clearly, she wasn’t sure what to think.
The next thing she saw was Nuvi bending over her, still naked.
“I’m sorry,” said Nuvi.
Kendra thought the handmaiden might be apologising for her sexual conduct, but it soon became clear that she was not.
“I have committed the sin of jealousy. I wanted so much to be the Chosen, but then when I found that the Goddess had Chosen you, a foreigner instead of an islander...I did not believe I could ever hate someone as much as I hated you then. I am ashamed. The Goddess’s decisions are never taken lightly, and now I think I have begun to understand her reasons for Choosing you. You are not hidebound by our traditions. You will bring fresh blood to our island.”
Hey, what does she mean, I’m the Chosen one? And what does she mean, “fresh blood”? They don’t mean to sacrifice me, do they?
But when Kendra tried to sit up and demand answers from Nuvi her body did not respond.
She couldn’t move. She couldn’t make a sound.
Oh, my God, she thought. What have they done to me? I’m paralysed!
And she could do nothing but watch and wait while Nuvi bowed her head in prayer to the Goddess, and then knelt by her side.
When Nuvi kissed her on the lips she could not protest.
When Nuvi lowered her head between Kendra’s thighs she could not cry out.
When Nuvi’s tongue caressed her vagina she could not resist.
And finally, when at long last Nuvi’s clever mouth took her to ecstasy and then far beyond, she could not howl in pleasure, try as she might.
Kendra was helpless. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t move a muscle.
And now she realised that she had not been able to move a muscle since the first time Nuvi had brought her to orgasm the night before. She had been paralysed all that time, but had been too distracted to notice!
After Nuvi’s departure Kendra lay motionless for several minutes, her mind reeling, until Suhani returned, wearing her feathered robe. Suhani knelt, placed her arm behind Kendra’s back and lifted her into a sitting position. The handmaidens, attired in less ornate robes, arrived a few moments later, carrying a carved wooden block between them. Placing the block on the ground between them they departed, returning after a minute or two with the wooden Avatar, which they set beside the block. Kendra could not help wondering what this new ritual might signify.
Kendra sat and watched. She was intensely aware of the fact that she could do nothing else.
“Goddess,” cried Suhani, “You have Chosen the one who shall be your presence upon the Earth for the next ten years. Kiluahi, who has served as your Avatar for the past ten years can now rest content as her successor takes up her tasks.”
Suhani was speaking in the tongue of the island, yet Kendra understood every word as if she were a native. Perhaps the Goddess had placed the knowledge in her mind....
“Let the Chosen now take her place upon the pedestal,” said the priestess.
With that the four handmaidens lifted Kendra and placed her upon the wooden block, arranging her limbs in the same position as the Avatar’s. As Kendra sat face to face with her wooden look-alike, she began to guess what was about to happen to her. No, she thought. That’s impossible. The Avatar is only a carved block of wood!
But as she looked into the Avatar’s eyes she could feel them looking back at her with quiet concern for her anxiety, as well as wry amusement, and even love. Wooden or not, the Avatar was alive!
Looking at the beautiful statue was making Kendra aroused again, and once more she found that she could not tear her eyes from the Avatar’s hypnotic gaze. Out of the corners of her eyes she could see the priestess and handmaidens performing a swaying dance as they sang a wordless tune. This went on for most of the afternoon, while the sun slowly fell toward the trees and Kendra’s arousal slowly and subtly intensified until she wanted to scream.
Finally, at some unknown cue, the women abruptly stopped singing and dancing. The handmaidens lowered their arms and waited while Suhani spoke.
“Goddess, the time has come. Let the Kendra, your new Chosen, fulfil her destiny as the new Avatar!”
At first Kendra felt only a subtle tingling, but then she slowly felt her body stiffening, hardening. Her back became ramrod-straight, her arms hardened at her sides, and her eyes became unblinking and fixed ahead in a permanent stare.
And the previous Avatar...Kiluahi...stared right back at her.
And even as her body was turned to wood, or something that looked very much like wood, Kendra had an orgasm that was infinitely more sensuous and intense than the orgasms she had felt at the hands of Suhani and her handmaidens. By the time it ended the sun was below the treetops.
And then she seemed to hear Kiluahi speaking to her without words, mind to mind: +It was strange for me at first, but I soon got used to it. It’s been a fascinating experience. Of course it must be even stranger for you, not being born to our traditions, but don’t worry. You’ll never get bored. You get to tour the island once every full moon, and being the Avatar gives you a direct link to every living thing on the island and the surrounding sea. All the people, the trees, the flowers, the ferns, the insects, the birds, the fish, the coral...I could never have guessed that there was such a diversity of life here. And the Goddess’s love flowed out to all of them through me! I can’t tell you what an incredible sensation that is. It’s like...like sharing the best fuck of your life with someone who loves you like you’ve never been loved before, every single moment of every day. Well, now it’s your turn to find out. As for me, I will have the memory of my time as the Avatar to treasure forever. I wish you well, Kendra. Goodbye.+
The handmaidens had already picked up the statue-woman and were bearing her away into the trees.
Wait, thought Kendra. I didn’t want to be Chosen! I have a home and a job and friends. I don’t want to spend ten years of my life paralysed on a remote island thousands of miles away! I want to be free! I want to move! I want to go home!
+Your friends no longer remember you. The Goddess had to stretch her powers to the limit, but she has succeeded in erasing all knowledge of your former existence beyond this island. The Goddess is never mistaken in her Choosing, Kendra, and nor does she ever undo it. You are the Avatar now, and I promise you will not regret it. My time as Avatar is now over and I can speak no more. Farewell.+
But wait! Wait! Please, there is so much I want to ask you....
But Kiluahi was gone.
Suhani knelt in front of Kendra and kissed her wooden lips. “You may be wondering what will happen to Kiluahi now that you have taken her place,” she said. “Well, you will find out for yourself in ten years’ time. For now, I will simply say that she is on her way to an enjoyable retirement. Whereas your term as Avatar is only just beginning.”
While Suhani was speaking a small yellow bird fluttered overhead in search of its nightly roost. Even as Kendra noticed it she found herself becoming aware of other yellow birds in the trees and in the air, not only in the nearby forest but all over the island. And then her awareness expanded to take in other species of birds, and the plants and insects and fish that they fed upon, and the plants and animals and dung and crustaceans and plankton that the insects and fish fed upon, and the other things that fed upon them, and the places where they lived, and how they mated and raised their young, and how they died, and how their bodies returned nutrients to the soil, and how the island’s human population lived upon that soil.......
Kendra had seen TV documentaries about ecology, but had never understood until now the way in which all living things and their environment fitted together. But now she was able to see the vast and complex Pattern woven by all the island’s living things, which formed just a tiny part of the great Pattern of life on Earth.
The Pattern was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
It was far too big for the human mind to grasp in its entirety, but Kendra was able to narrow her field of view in order to examine single species and their environments, or to individual plants or animals, and then expand it again to see how they all fitted into the grand scheme of things.
And just as Kiluahi had told her, she could feel the Goddess’s love being channelled through her into every living thing on the island. Every little piece of the Pattern received its own allocation of energy from the Goddess, and every little piece of energy that flowed through Kendra was like a miniature orgasm, each one unique; a thousand orgasms every minute.
Unable to resist, Kendra gave herself up to the pleasure and forgot about being a statue. In an orgasmic trance she allowed her consciousness to drift from one part of the Pattern to the next, fascinated by the intricate web of connections between living things and their environments.
It was not until some time later that she heard Suhani speaking and found her awareness returning to her body.
“Goddess of the island, impart your blessing now, we pray, through your Avatar. Let it bring our visitors peace and wisdom, and wherever they may travel may your blessing go with them.”
Kendra found herself sitting in the open-air shrine surrounded by the bare-breasted handmaidens. Suhani was speaking to a group of tourists, and Kendra was surprised to see Alan among them. She was so surprised that she tried to stand up and confront him - and only then remembered that she couldn’t move. But she was still feeling the Goddess’s gift of ecstasy.
Suhani continued to speak, but Alan was not looking at her, or at Kendra’s wooden body. He seemed to be trying to catch the eye of one of the handmaidens. Tarani, thought Kendra. She’s the one he’s been boffing behind my back. Well, he’s welcome to her now. There’s nothing I can do to stop him even if I wanted to. But when Suhani had finished her piece the four handmaidens turned away. Tarani gave no sign of having noticed Alan, who had no choice but to depart, muttering to himself, with the rest of the tour group.
Has she finished with him? Kendra thought, and then realised there was a simple way to find out. Extending her consciousness into the Pattern, she focused in on Tarani’s small piece of it. Immediately she saw what she had suspected. Tarani had grown bored with Alan’s crass behaviour and no longer wanted anything to do with him. Despite her earlier jealousy Kendra now felt sorry for Tarani.
It’s not your fault, she thought. He treats all his girlfriends this way. If I’d known what he was like I’d have dumped him long ago.
Tarani gasped and turned back toward Kendra. “Chosen?” she gasped.
Kendra had not realised it, but she must have projected her thoughts at Tarani while she was linked to the handmaiden’s piece of the Pattern. Tarani knelt before Kendra’s frozen body and bowed her head. “Oh, Avatar, I was a fool. I really thought he loved me.”
Kendra focused her thoughts on the handmaiden again. Don’t blame yourself. He fooled me too. I guess it’s like Shakespeare said - do they teach Shakespeare here on the island? “Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; Men were deceivers ever.” ....But then, if I hadn’t thought he loved me I’d never have come here with him and things would have turned out very different.
“There is more,” said Tarani. “Alan and I made love naturally, with no barriers to conception. Now the Goddess has told me, through your predecessor Kiluahi, that I bear Alan’s child.”
Once more Kendra focused her consciousness upon Tarani, carefully examining her body, much as a medical scanner might but with far more finesse. She wasn’t sure how she knew exactly where to look, or what to look for, but she did. And there it was, clear and unmistakable to her new senses. A newly fertilised egg sat within one of Tarani’s fallopian tubes.
Yes, thought Kendra. You’re pregnant. Only a few days yet...could even have happened the first time, I suppose. Well, I guess you’ll have to give up carrying me around for a while.
“I will have to give up being a handmaiden altogether! Although...Suhani told me that if I were...no longer carrying the child...I could spend the rest of my year in her service.”
No longer carrying? Oh, Tarani, she doesn’t mean...?
“There are...there are plant distillations that...that can...but no! No, it was wrong of Suhani to even suggest such a thing. Whatever the father’s sins, the child is innocent. I will find the child a good father and raise it in the traditions of the Goddess. I regret having to give up serving you, Avatar, but I know you will understand.”
I’m sure you’ll make a wonderful mother, thought Kendra, and the Goddess and I will watch over you and your child.
“Thank you, Avatar.” So saying, Tarani placed her hand upon Kendra’s wooden breast, which made Kendra come immediately. It was the first of a cascading series of fully-fledged orgasms, which she could not help but pass on to Tarani as well.
Some time later, after Tarani had departed, Kendra realised that in agreeing to watch over Tarani’s child she had been accepting her own fate. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t go home. She could not escape her destiny. She was now the Avatar, and there was no way to change that even if she wanted to.
That night Kendra was aroused from her trance by a rustling in the trees. The handmaidens had placed Kendra in the small hut near the shrine, and as she watched the cloth curtain was thrown aside and a figure stood in the entrance silhouetted against the dimly moonlit trees. The figure staggered forward and almost fell to its knees before her.
“Damn han’mai’ns think they’re so f’kin’ high an’ mighty,” it muttered.
Alan? Thought Kendra. Good God - I mean Goddess - what’s he doing here? Did he recognise me when he saw me this afternoon? But no, if what Kiluahi said was true he’ll have forgotten all about me.
“Firs’ T’rani says, ‘Oh, white boy, you such a good fuck’, then two days later sh’says, ‘Sorry, fella, me no wan’ know you any more’. F’kin stuck-up li’l bitch.”
While he spoke, Alan had begun to fondle Kendra’s breasts. “Heh. ’Snice. Firm. I like ’em nice’n firm.”
Alan continued to stroke, caress and suck Kendra’s wooden bosom for several minutes, yet curiously Kendra felt nothing. The handmaidens’ slightest touch on her wooden body was powerfully erotic, yet Alan’s touch provoked no response whatever.
“’Sall her fault,” Alan continued with his mouth full. “My girlfrien’...jus’ up an’ leaving me like tha’...can’t even r’member her name, the silly bitch...’f it weren’t f’her I’d never have had to fuck that little native bitch instead...nex’ time I get hold of her I’ll...I’ll...”
And with that Alan collapsed unconscious at the Avatar’s feet.
Oh, great, thought Kendra. Why couldn’t the idiot have just taken the next boat back to big island and tried his luck there? I ought to hate him for what he’s done, but I just feel sorry for him. What’s Suhani going to do if she catches him like this?
She did not have to wait long to find out. A few moments later Suhani entered, accompanied by Hinui who held aloft a small lantern.
“Do you recognise him?” demanded Suhani.
“Um...yes, priestess,” Hinui replied. “He’s Alan, the visitor who came with Kendra, the one who was fucking with Tarani and me.”
“He has violated the sanctity of the Avatar. You know the rules. All who touch the Avatar without the priestess’s leave must be punished.”
“Will...will he die for this?” squeaked Hinui.
Suhani appeared to consider this for a while. “No...” she muttered eventually. “I believe I’ve thought of a more suitable punishment. We shall take him to the shrine near the Men’s House.”
“But the Men’s house is forbidden to women.”
“I have some knowledge of sorcery. I will place a spell on the men that will prevent them from seeing us. And then we shall place a spell on him that will pay him back in a suitable fashion. Come help me wake the others. We will begin at once.”
They left, returning after a few minutes with the other handmaidens, and between them the five women bore Alan away.
A spell, she said, thought Kendra. What are they going to do to him?
And then she realised there was a simple way to find out. Focusing her attention on the Pattern she zoomed in on the five women and their unconscious prisoner. For what might have been two hours they carried him through the forest until they came to a clearing in the centre of which was a long wooden structure - the Men’s House that Suhani had spoken of. Near each end of the house was a doorway guarded by a man with a spear. Suhani chanted quietly and gestured at the guards. Kendra felt a small, oddly distorted piece of the Pattern reach out to them and they slumped unconscious at their posts.
The women carried Alan into the clearing before the house, at the centre of which was a stone altar. The women quickly stripped Alan naked and laid him face down on the altar. Then Suhani began to chant once more and the handmaidens repeated her words. Kendra felt another piece of the Pattern being wrested from its natural shape and twisted into something powerful and potentially deadly. Alan stirred in his sleep as something as soft as a spider’s web and as tough as steel was absorbed into his body.
It was done. The women departed, leaving Alan asleep on the altar.
What had they done to him? There was nothing to do but wait until daybreak to find out.
At daybreak the guards awoke, believing themselves to have been awake all night. And so from their point of view the figure upon the altar had suddenly appeared out of thin air. The guards immediately raised the alarm, bringing men running from the house.
The men’s house was the communal sleeping quarters for all the unmarried men of the island. Most of its occupants were aged between 15 and 25, and there was a good deal of energetic sex-play between them. And so when they stumbled out into the light to discover that their altar had suddenly been graced by the presence of a beautiful naked man, lying face down in a posture of submission, many of them came to the obvious conclusion: namely, that he was a god who wanted to join in with their mortal games.
Meanwhile Alan had woken and tried to stand up, only to discover that he could not move, any more than could the wooden Avatar. When one of the men managed to fight off the others for the privilege of being first to mount him, he couldn’t believe what was happening at first. But soon he had no choice but to believe it.
Oh, Suhani, thought Kendra, did he really deserve this?
Kendra wanted to set him free, but she could not undo Suhani’s spell. The twist in the Pattern was beyond the Avatar’s ability to untie. Under the spell Alan was doomed to remain alive and frozen upon the altar for eternity.
For the next hour the men took it in turns to enjoy Alan’s rigid body while he tried uselessly to escape, until it was time for them all to go and hunt, fish, or put on dances and mock fights for the tourists.
Alan lay in a state of shock and disbelief. There had been at least ten of them, and the worst of it was that he hadn’t even been able to resist.
No, that wasn’t quite true. The worst of it was that part of him hadn’t wanted to resist. They had given him fantastic orgasms....
And now, trapped in his body, he could do nothing but wait in a state of terrible anticipation until they returned.
Kendra could feel everything Alan was going through, and she knew there was only one thing she could do for him.
Listen to me, she thought, bringing all her powers to bear on Alan’s portion of the Pattern. I am the Goddess’s Avatar. You will not remember that I have spoken to you, but you will heed all that I say.
You will never again experience fear, shame or humiliation. You are a god of sexuality and it is your natural destiny to be loved by the men of the island. Their every touch will bring you untold joy, and their pleasure will be your pleasure.
Every man who feels sexually frustrated at home can come to you, so that rape and wife-beating will cease to exist. And...and no man can fail to be aroused by you, so that once he has taken his pleasure with you, he will never be impotent with his wife or lover again.
The men’s lovemaking will give you the most wonderful orgasms you have ever felt, and you will know that as long as you serve the Goddess in this fashion the island will remain in peace and harmony forever.
Now rest content, and wait in a state of pleasant anticipation until your worshippers return this evening.
There. It was done. Now Alan could endure his paralysed fate, just as Kendra could endure hers. In attempting to punish Alan, Suhani had inadvertently taken the first step toward creating a new, male, Avatar.
Yes, thought the Goddess in Kendra’s mind, but this time the Choice was yours, and you have Chosen well.
It was the evening of Kendra’s one hundred and thirtieth procession about the island. Handmaidens had come and gone over the years, but she had taken pleasure from all of them, and all of them with each other. Occasionally the priestess had used her sorcery to temporarily transform Kendra back to flesh and blood while she and the handmaidens made love to her, although of course she remained as immobile as ever.
Suhani had retired as priestess three years before and had been replaced by her former handmaiden Murukai. Tarani’s daughter Melahai was now a bright, happy nine-year-old who dreamed of being Chosen herself one day. Tarani had married a fisherman who had proved himself a good husband and father.
Alan, meanwhile, had settled contentedly into his role as the men’s god of sexuality and took the utmost delight in his duties.
Thanks to the Pattern, Kendra knew every part of the island in minute detail, so it wasn’t actually necessary for her to visit it in person. Nevertheless, she enjoyed being carried on her pedestal, up the mountain by moonlight and then slowly down and around the island as the night and day wore on. The islanders followed, cheering, singing, laughing, throwing flowers at the handmaidens’ feet and occasionally whispering propositions to them. The handmaidens were not allowed to reply, at least in words, but once or twice they stuck out their tongues at their admirers. Among the islanders this was either a gesture of friendship or a sexual innuendo depending on the context, and there was no mistaking the context in this case.
So it was that once the handmaidens had returned Kendra to her shrine, the handmaidens and their male and female followers danced and drank and made love while priestess Murukai indulged them.
For ten years the Pattern had shown Kendra every aspect of life on the island, yet strangely there was one thing it had never shown her. No matter how she tried, she could never see what had happened to the previous Avatars. Even her immediate predecessor Kiluahi seemed to have disappeared completely the day Kendra had taken her place. Still, thought Kendra, it would not be long until she found out. It was very nearly time for the Goddess to Choose her successor.
While she pondered these things Kendra watched two women dancing before her. One of them was the handmaiden Hakani. The other was the former handmaiden Nuvi. Nuvi had never married, and had always taken female lovers. She must have been ten years older than Hakani, but that didn’t seem to bother either of them. After a few minutes Nuvi slipped out of her sarong and stepped forward to help Hakani out of hers.
Mini-orgasms were washing over Kendra’s body, as they had for every minute of the last ten years, but as always they became more frequent and intense while she watched the women make love. Hakani might have lacked Nuvi’s experience, but she more than made up for it in enthusiasm.
Nuvi and Hakani made love for more than an hour, sometimes helped by the other handmaidens and their lovers, while the moon climbed the sky. As time went on Kendra began to feel their ecstasy as well as her own, and they could feel hers. Kendra could not have believed that she could feel greater ecstasy than she had during her ten years as the Avatar, but this surpassed anything she had felt before.
And then she heard the Goddess, telling her: It is time.
In that instant, Nuvi’s arms and legs froze, although Hakani was too busy to notice at first.
Nuvi gasped as wave after wave of ecstasy coursed through her gradually stiffening body. Realising that this could mean only one thing she began to weep with joy.
“I...cannot...move,” she cried. “O... Goddesss... you... have... cho... sen... me... at... last...! Thank... you... god... dess... thank... youuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...........
Then as her body locked into immobility a cascading series of orgasms began to overtake her, each more blissful and intense than the last. Hakani instantly felt Nuvi’s pleasure as well and became paralysed in her arms. Kendra, meanwhile, could feel everything they both felt and could not help but feed their pleasure back to them in an ever-increasing telepathic loop, until it was impossible to feel more, and it went on and on and on and on and on and on and on.......
The next day Nuvi was blessed by the priestess and the handmaidens and then placed upon her pedestal while Kendra watched. Kendra held a brief telepathic conversation with Nuvi, describing her experiences as Avatar and wishing Nuvi well. Then Kendra was carried away from the shrine, leaving Nuvi to discover the secrets of the Pattern for herself.
Kendra could still sense the Pattern, but dimly, as if through a darkened window. Her constant orgasms had also become less intense.
Ah, well, she thought, it was fun while it lasted. Does this mean I’ll never feel pleasure that intensely again? That would be sad. And where exactly are they taking me?
The handmaidens were carrying Kendra up the slope of Mount Uruhé, as they had during her procession, yet something seemed different about it. There was something about the shape of the slope, the width of the summit...but how was that possible? A mountain could not change its shape.
And then as the handmaidens carried her to the summit, she saw a sight that amazed her.
Beyond the uppermost ridge of the mountain slope lay a broad, deep crater with a lake at its base. There was a small cleft on the far side of the crater that would allow floodwater to drain away and prevent the lake from filling the crater to its rim.
Kendra had seen the mountain thousands of times, both in person and in the Pattern, and had always believed it to be conical with a rounded top. There had never been any sign of a crater. How was it possible?
You never saw it before, the Goddess told her, because we never allowed you to see it, until now. Look now and you shall see more.
As Kendra watched in bewildered fascination, hundreds of figures began to appear around the crater’s grassy slopes. Hundreds of female figures, looking inward toward the centre of the crater, each of them apparently carved from solid wood.
They were the Avatars. All of Kendra’s predecessors, carefully hidden from her perception of the Pattern by their combined power. Even as she came to this realisation, the handmaidens set her down upon the hillside next to her predecessor Kiluahi, kissed her, and departed.
Hundreds of Avatars, thought Kendra, each one serving for ten years...my God! That means the oldest of them is thousands of years old!
Not “your God”, a voice told Kendra. Our Goddess! The Pattern can no longer hide the truth from you. Do you see it now?
Yes, she thought. Now I understand. The Goddess is not a supernatural being in the sky or wherever. The Goddess is all of you. The collective consciousness of all the Avatars that have ever lived.
Ah, but don’t say “All of you,” Kendra. Say “All of us!” You are now part of the Goddess as well. Don’t worry, you won’t lose your individual personality, but you’ve now become something much larger than yourself. One day, thousands of years from now, the Pattern tells us that we will encounter others like ourselves, from other worlds and distant stars. And there will come one young girl from a small world whose power to influence the Pattern will be far greater than ours, and who will end up changing the entire universe for the better...with a little help from us. But that won’t happen for a few thousand years yet.
Oh, and by the way, there’s just one more thing, the voice told Kendra, as she felt herself swept up in the collective love and fellowship of the multiple Goddess.
What’s that? she thought, with a mental sigh of pleasure.
Why, only this, it said:
If you thought you had fantastic orgasms when you were just an Avatar, you won’t believe what you’re capable of experiencing now that you’re part of the Goddess!